Mobilize March -- Travel Blog

Day 05 — Chillin in Cambridge

Another day, another early morning. We got up early today to make it across town for our first presentation of the day at Stewart Avenue Public School. Although the sun was shining brightly, it was definitely a bit nippy out. I guess it was kind of a good thing though because the blast of cool wind definitely woke me up–it was tough getting out of bed today for sure. The presentation went quite nicely at the school and a bunch of the kids mauled me after for autographs, which was both really neat and kind of strange all at the same time. Usually when I sign my name to something it means I’m losing money to the phone or cable company, which is rarely cause for celebration, but sitting at the front of the auditorium and giving kids high fives and signatures was a pretty cool experience. I’ve never really thought of myself as being “autograph” worthy and I’m still not too sure if I fit within that category–I guess ultimately it’s just really, really humbling and surreal to have these kids looking up to me and thinking “Wow, he’s a really cool guy!” I’ve never thought of myself as being much of a role-model figure, I just hope I don’t let these kids down.

After a really great conversation at the elementary school with some other students with disabilities from a local high school, I made my way over to the City Hall. Now, as some of you may know, we purchased a GPS unit before heading out on this journey, which I have affectionately named Margaret Thatcher because of the shrill and bossy British voice that is constantly leading us down a path of catastrophic destruction. Today, Ms. Thatcher decided to lead us to the wrong City Hall–apparently Cambridge has recently rebuilt their City Hall a few blocks down the road. Luckily, there was a sign on the old City Hall door so we didn’t miss our appointment.

Shortly after arriving in front of the beautiful new City Hall, which I’m told is the most energy efficient City Hall in all of Canada…take that British Columbia, we were quickly greeted by Mayor Craig, who saw us approaching from his throne on the 2nd Floor of the Glass Acropolis that is Cambridge City Hall.

Camera man getting a low-angle shot of JeffAfter a short meet and greet, CTV arrived anxious for an interview. It was a really fun interview with a very nervous intern (who I blabbed at for a bit longer than I intended…sorry!) and a very chill camera man who was incredibly good at walking backward while filming from his shoulder. The CTV crew followed us into the Mayor’s office after our interview and stuck around for our chat with Mayor Craig. The Mayor was quite receptive to our concerns and explained that he was so excited to hear about what I am doing and hopes his City Council will be able to continue to break down barriers through the the Accessible Advisory Committee–a very, very active group who have done some incredible work around Cambridge over the past 2 years.

After this, Operation: Sleep took hold. I fell asleep around 1:30 this afternoon and was borderline comatose until around 6pm tonight. Without betraying my famous Jeff Preston Bravado too much, I definitely have to admit that this trip has been far, far, far harder on me than I rarely let myself acknowledge. I definitely did not expect how much physical strain would be put on my body from driving for extended periods of time–the static driving position is already beginning to wreck havoc on my neck and left shoulder. Because of my reduced muscle mass, from the Muscular Dystrophy, it takes almost all of my strength just to remain sitting upright, something that is complicated further when driving on bumpy or gravel roads. For short drives (less than an hour) I don’t seem to really notice the strain, but on our last 6 hour run I was absolutely feeling it by the end: I’m pretty sore and unbelievably tired after a long drive, far more than I had planned on before. Having said that, I never expected this to be simple or easy and I will struggle my way through both the physical and emotional obstacles to achieve my goal–I owe it to all of those with disabilities across this province. We deserve so much better and I’m willing to sacrifice everything to attain that goal.

We’re only on Day 5 and Woodstock seems like it happened last months. Oh well, onward we preserve for a cause far bigger than any one person.

Oh! Some exciting news! I’ve now put all of our routes online under the Itinerary section (or by following this link). Now the embedded maps are a little screwed up, Google Maps has been really buggy tonight and I’m just too tired to try and figure out what is wrong. Having said that, if you click on the little link that says ‘View Larger Map’ below the embedded map, that will open our EXACT route up into a new window. This is the way we’re planning to get to Ottawa, so come on out and see us on our way!

Tomorrow we head to Kitchener, a nice and short trip starting around 11am. We’ve got a really nice quiet weekend ahead of us, followed by a really really busy week in Kitchener and Guelph. Time to get some rest, relax a bit, and get ready to change some minds!

Onward and upward, Drive 3 tomorrow.

– Jeff

By Jeffrey Preston

Born with a rare neuromuscular myopathy, Jeff has spent his life dedicated to advocating for himself and others with disabilities. With a PhD in Media Studies from Western University, Jeff's research focuses on the representation of disability in popular and digital culture. Jeff is currently an Assistant Professor of Disability Studies at King's University College @ Western University in London, ON.