Natalie triumphs in 39 step challenge in Learning Disability Week   

Natalie (4th from left) and friends from East Kent Mencap

It’s Learning Disability Week and the theme is ‘Do you see me?’ which highlights the experiences of people with a learning disability, emphasising the importance of being seen, heard and valued.

Natalie Stephens, who has Down Syndrome and attends East Kent Mencap’s Ramsgate Hub, recently set herself the challenge to walk 39 steps without her walker. This was Natalie’s Spring Forward Challenge, part of East Kent Mencap’s annual fundraising appeal.

Yesterday (June 18) Natalie completed her challenge in the presence of her supportive East Kent Mencap friends and employees. Natalie’s challenge raised £227 for the charity to buy essential equipment and resources for the Ramsgate Hub.

Natalie said: “I am very proud that I have done my challenge. I was nervous, so it was nice having everyone cheer me on. Thank you to everyone who supported me.”

Maria, Senior Support Worker at East Kent Mencap, Ramsgate Hub, added:”It’s fantastic that Natalie has completed her Spring Forward Challenge during Learning Disability Week. Her achievements are inspiring and it’s wonderful to celebrate her success.”

In March 2020 Natalie became ill with Covid and was eventually taken into QEQM Hospital.

A six week fight against the virus meant Natalie spent 15 days on a ventilator, had three bouts of pneumonia and then weeks of work to learn how to move and talk again.

In May 2020, Natalie was finally able to return to her Broadstairs home but the journey to recovery was still ongoing.

Despite this courageous Natalie, who lives near the 39 Steps, decided she would set herself a goal to take those 39 steps with the aid of a walker and she raised over £3,000 for East Kent Mencap.

Natalie receiving her certificate from Senior Support Worker, Maria
Natalie receiving her certificate from Senior Support Worker, Maria

Her latest achievement of conquering another 39 steps, this time without her walker, was to raise awareness and essential funds for East Kent Mencap, which she has been attending for over 10 years.

During Learning Disability Week East Kent Mencap is amplifying the voices and achievements of the people who use its services, while highlighting the many challenges and barriers they face.

East Kent Mencap, CEO, Jason Gerlack, said: “We are campaigning for change to support people with a learning disability to lead the lives they want, whether that is to complete an inspiring challenge like Natalie’s, find employment, feel a sense of belonging within their community or have the support they need to live as independently as possible.”

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