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Fundraiser Tales: Alice’s sponsored silence

Alice Kerby on scheme

In this Fundraiser Tale, Alice Kerby (pictured above), one of our incredible Play Workers, talks about what happened when she undertook a sponsored silence challenge in aid of Challengers!

I DID IT! I stayed silent for a whole week in aid of Challengers and raised over £1,000, more than double my initial target! It was tricky but so worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat if it would raise that amount again.

However, this sponsored silence was to raise more than just money, I also wanted to raise awareness of disabilities that prevent many people from being able to communicate.

Before I started, the thing I was most worried about was accidentally talking and breaking the silence. I managed not to, but the week presented some different challenges.

Here were some thoughts from the week:

Wow. It can be frustrating not talking!

There was one incident where a lecture was interrupted quite rudely by another member of staff, everyone was outraged, and in that moment being unable to express my thoughts on the matter was incredibly frustrating. Another day we managed to lose an instrument and had many people searching for it – another situation where it would have been very useful to be able to speak. I carried a whiteboard around the whole week, just as many non-verbal people have other means of communicating, but it was so much slower than talking! There were so many times I tried to join in a conversation and by the time I’d written something… it had moved on.

There were times when it was also quite isolating.

Even though you’re present, you don’t feel part of things when you’re not able to join the conversation. I had several people over the week saying things like “oh, I won’t speak to you then” or apologising for speaking to me. I understand that in this case it was probably just that they didn’t want to tempt me into breaking the silence but it really resonated with me – so often non-verbal individuals (or those who struggle with communication) are ignored or not included in things.

There were times where not being able to talk made me feel anxious.

This actually surprised me. Even though I had a sign to explain what I was doing, I still often felt like people were going to be judging me. Throughout the week I challenged myself to continue doing everything I would normally do. For example, I expected doing my weekly supermarket shop to be easy, as I was able to use self-scan, but I was still filled with fear that someone was going to try and speak to me and I wouldn’t be able to talk back! It was all okay for me though, because I had the constant motivation of the ever-increasing JustGiving fund, and the praise of my peers. So many people throughout the week congratulated me on what I was doing, but the people who face this day-to-day don’t always get that kind of praise or recognition for their efforts in trying to communicate.

And yet, most of the young people I come across at Challengers are full of joy and find other ways to express themselves and engage with the world. They are the true inspirations, and I have endless admiration for them. The money raised will give them more opportunities to have the fun they so deserve.

Inspired by Alice’s fundraising? Visit our Inspiration & Ideas page for lots of top tips and advice on fundraising for Challengers. Alternatively, you can call us on 01483 230 060 or email fundraising@disability-challengers.org.