Edward Colston Statue

Edward Colston Statue Replaced With Sculpture Of Black Lives Matter Protester

Black Lives Matter protests have been occurring all across the world for the past couple of months in wake of the untimely death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and countless other black individuals at the hands of the police. One of the newest aspects of these demonstrations calls for a removal of countless statues and monuments that honor historical figures who were either slave owners, political figures who made racist policies targeted at black people, etc. 

In Bristol, UK, protestors made headlines last month when they tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader from the 17th century. Once they tore down the statue they dumped it into the River Avon, a body of water Colston often used to bring black people into the UK to be traded as slaves. 

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Now, the city has decided to reckon their past mistake of honoring Colston and instead have mounted a new statue that honors the Black Lives Matter movement. Marc Quinn is the British artist who was hired to create the new statue, which now depicts a young woman standing with her fist raised in a Black Power salute in the same exact spot that Colston’s statue stood for decades. 

The statue is inspired specifically by Jen Reid, a Bristol resident whose photo has circulated social media within the past month after she climbed up onto the empty podium where Colston’s statue once stood and raised her fist. After Quinn contacted Reid he made a life-sized sculpture of her based off the photograph using black resign.

“It is such a powerful image, of a moment I felt had to be materialized, forever. I contacted Jen via social media to discuss the idea of the sculpture and she told me she wanted to collaborate.”

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Quinn stated that his friend was the one who initially showed him the photograph of Reid and right away he thought to himself “how incredible it would be to make a sculpture of her.” The sculpture is officially titled “A Surge of Power (Jen Reid) 2020,” and unfortunately will only be temporarily erected where it currently stands. 

Quinn didn’t receive permission to erect the statue there, however, if it sells before it’s forcibly removed, Quinn claims the money made will be donated among two charities that will be chosen by Reid and work to promote the inclusion of Black history in school curriculums. The goal of the statue is to “highlight the unacceptable problem of institutionalized and systemic racism” and force individuals with privilege to confront the ways in which they’ve fueled that fire. 

Reid also spoke with media outlets, claiming that her climbing onto the statue’s platform during the June demonstration was a complete impulse decision. The protest itself was on June 7th in Bristol and brought in an estimated 10,000 participants. She claimed she initially agreed to collaborate with Quinn in order to “keep the journey towards racial justice and equality moving.” 

“It’s about Black children seeing it up there. It’s something to feel proud of, to have a sense of belonging, because we actually do belong here and we’re not going anywhere.”

The trend of tearing down statues and petitioning for their removal based on the individuals depicted having extremely racist pasts is growing large all around the world. As protests continue throughout America and the rest of the world every single day, one of the goals will now be to replace them all with individuals who made real lasting impacts on the history of this country.

Surf School

Fully Accessible Surf School Opens In Bristol

The Wave is a new advanced wave pool in Bristol (located in the South of England) that allows equal opportunity for anyone with a real passion for surfing and a desire to learn. What sets this specific establishment apart from others is that it is the first wave pool in the UK that was designed with people with disabilities in mind. 

Nick Hounsfield is the former osteopathic physician behind the entire project. An osteopathic physician mainly focuses on joints, muscles and the spine, and their therapies are non-invasive. The overall goal is to help improve upon the body’s nervous, circulatory, and lymphatic systems without medicine or medical procedures; however, it’s meant to be in addition to traditional medicine practices as well. Many osteopathics are also medical doctors, although it’s not a requirement. 

“From day one, our aim was to make sure the space was accessible physically and in terms of culture, to make sure that all people have the same opportunities on site as each other and to normalize being around people who have physical or mental health issues,” Hounsfield said in an interview.

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The Wave is completed with access ramps, handicap restrooms, wheelchairs made specifically for beach terrain, and most importantly specialized surf trainers/coaches who are professionally trained to work with individuals who have physical/mental restrictions. 

In general the surfing culture in the UK is rather limited, due to an overall lack of beach access. The beaches have quick and passing seasons that are ideal for any water sports, but it also depends on the weather on a given day, and how close you are in relation to the beach. Man-made water structures for sporting have always been the best bet in the UK, however, none really had handicap access until now. 

There have been countless studies on the positive effects of playing water-sports for those with any sort of physical, mental, visual, or learning impediments. Doctor Easky Britton is a marine social scientist who studied over 33 studies involving over 2,000 individuals with some sort of disability, and how “water-based healthcare” affected their overall well-being. 

“In the context of a physical disability, it’s the sense of freedom from gravity which takes the pressure off joints. For some amputees it really reduces the dependency on narcotics and pain medication. And mentally, psychologically, it has a huge effect on mood and wellbeing,” Britton said.

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The Wave really is focused on delivering that same sense of freedom mentioned by Britton. Safety is obviously their number one priority, but after that the staff wants every individual who comes to The Wave to feel normal and excited about the new experiences they’re about to embark on. It’s for that reason that Hounsfield ensures that every group and every training session has at least four lifeguards on duty at all times. 

Again, the guards and trainers working at The Wave are all specially trained to work with individuals with specific physical and mental restrictions as well. No one ever asks to be limited in their physical or mental capabilities, so they shouldn’t have to compromise doing something just because it seems impossible. Hounsfield applied this logic to his establishment, and is now allowing a whole new world of possibilities for those who have been told they “can’t” surf or go in the water because of an uncontrollable restriction. 

“I love stuff when it’s ‘on’ the water – it’s my happy place. At first [after the accident] I was very wobbly but skiing and wakeboarding has given me strength. Most of all it’s helped me mentally, emotionally and with confidence. Having these kinds of experiences is a total gift,” says 31-year-old Sophie Elwes, who’s paralysed from the chest down. 

“It was truly an inclusive experience. I wish the whole world was designed [accessibly] like this.”