‘Inspiration can come to us at any time and from many sources.’
We found inspiration in the form of 12-year-old Theo Tolley when he and his family came along to do ‘Their Mile, Their Way’ at our Medway Family Mile event in August. This was one of our most successful summer events, drawing hundreds of people from across the community to come along and discover what The Family Mile is all about.
Through The Family Mile, we are committed to inspiring families to come together and take that first step towards a happier and healthier life, removing any barriers that stand in their way. However, it is the examples of role models like Theo and his family that fuel our ability to achieve this and showcase our vision as a reality.
From Strood in Medway, Theo is the third of six children and attends Bradfields Academy in Chatham. Born premature at just 25 weeks, and with a rare limb abnormality known as ‘split hand and foot syndrome’, Theo undeniably had a challenging start to life. Not only this, but just two years ago he was also diagnosed as deaf. Despite the numerous challenges that Theo has been faced with, at our Family Mile event we simply saw a young boy that loves being active, refusing to let any of these obstacles hold him back. Theo’s Mother Sherri told us that his disability ‘doesn’t faze him’, and this was more than clear for everyone to see at our event. Theo’s love for being active also spills into his passion for football, and he has long been a big Arsenal FC fan.
Just in the same way that football unites families and communities, it was wonderful to see the Tolley family coming together to do ‘Their Mile’ and enjoy being active in a way that suited the whole family. Exercising as a family is incredibly beneficial for family bonding, developing teamwork, improving children’s mental health, and encouraging good habits, however we can often forget to make the time. By coming together to do just fifteen minutes of physical activity, (the time it takes to walk a mile), the difference in the children’s ages, abilities, and interests all dissolve, and every family member can reap the benefits of The Family Mile.
Whilst we strive to deliver an initiative that is accessible and inclusive to everyone, we recognise that for some people, overcoming these barriers and being active is not that simple. Sometimes, words can only go so far in encouraging people to take that first step, and that is why having role models like Theo and his family is so important in empowering families. They demonstrate how a positive, ‘can-do’ attitude can break down any barriers to physical activity, and they remind us exactly why The Family Mile was created in the first place.
We are delighted to now be ‘putting them in purple’ and welcoming the Tolley family as Brand Ambassadors for The Family Mile. Theo is an incredible individual who has inspired us all here at The Mason Foundation, and who we are sure will continue to inspire many others to do ‘Their Mile, Their Way.’