I’m a physio by trade, and I work with children and young people with disabilities. This has always given me ample opportunity to go a little further than my job entails. It gives me an opportunity to give back. I have received much thanks and appreciation along the years, but people don’t realise when they are appreciative that the ability to be kind and help others enriches my life so much that the thanks are unnecessary.
When I was about 35, I broke up with a boyfriend, and it dawned on me that I may not ever have children. This was an immense sadness at the time, and I could quite easily have spiralled into depression. This is where the everyday kindnesses that I could give to my clients saved me. I didn’t have a choice about helping others. My job and the opportunity to give a little more and make little improvements to other people’s lives got me through that painful period. Being kind and thinking of others during my working hours made it impossible to think of my woes and took me out of my own worries and difficulties. Kindness conquered.
My life then changed when I started a charity called Gympanzees. Our aim is to open the UK’s first exercise and play facility for children and young people with disabilities in Bristol. This was my first real foray into the charity world. I can’t tell you how this has transformed my life and how much joy it gives me every day. Once again people thank us or are grateful for the work we do, but we love what we do so it is really us who are grateful. The work is exciting and rewarding but a huge highlight is that we come into contact with so many very kind people. It is an unparalleled privilege and joy to work in a field where kindness is the currency.
Right from the inception of the idea, those close to me and strangers alike have shown kindness and generosity, offered their time, expertise, made introductions, fundraised, fought on our behalf, donated and gone out of their way to make Gympanzees such a success for our families. I don’t know if this is just a Bristol or the South West thing (I have a feeling Bristol has the kindest people in the world). I don’t know how many people we talk to have some connection to the disability world or are just touched by the cause. I don’t know what motivates all these people, but the common characteristic of 99% of the people I have met through Gympanzees in the last five years is kindness. It still strikes me with every conversation, event, donation, and email just how very good people can be. It makes sense for me to work hard on Gympanzees. It is my baby. And I get to see the impacts and hear directly from the families involved. It is easy and understandable for me to be kind. But the striking thing is all the other people who may not see the impact front on but are still willing to put themselves out and be kind to strangers.
So my two cents is this; if you are having a bad day, go and be kind to someone. If you are having a bad year – work for a charity and let the kindness blow your mind!
CEO & Founder of Gympanzees
A physiotherapist by trade, Steph Is a multi-award winning CEO and entrepreneur. On a quest to make a real difference, Gympanzees have launched a capital fund-raising appeal called Project Home Appeal which aims to secure a permanent home for Gympanzees in Bristol. This facility will offer play, exercise and social inclusion for the 66,000 disabled children and young people who live within an hour of Bristol, supporting their health and wellbeing and taking their families out of isolation.