Safe & active in the OI community!

The last couple of months have been anything but easy. For all of us, this pandemic has arrived as some kind of storm, about which we heard something on the news, but never really thought would have arrived and jeopardized so much our daily, ordinary and chaotic days. I live in Italy, one of those countries where the COVID hit hard and caught us suddenly and unprepared, at first at least.

As for me, I was busy enjoying a Powerchair Hockey International Tournament as technical delegate when we got the news about the first COVID cases in Italy. For me that meant I had to stop worrying about game rules, classifications, referees and matches and start worrying about making sure all those athletes and staff members could fly or travel back home safely and fast. 

Coming back to an empty Milan was shocking, but necessary to realize that this was probably more serious than what we were told. In a few days, the complete lockdown was announced and our home became the only safe place to stay and be. 

For someone who was used to being surrounded by people and having plenty of things to do and places to go, it was really complicated to realize that most of my upcoming plans was not going to happen. I remember thinking that I had never spent so much time grounded at home even with both legs in a plaster cast. Because even back then, I used to find a way to meet people, go out or plan small trips somewhere. On the other hand, as a reaction I bought a drawing album and some colouring pencils. This was the basics my mum made sure to have at home when I was a kid with a bad fracture, facing long hospitalizations or long periods at home.

Photo of a Mac with screen and keyboard. People working out in a gym and people working out in a Zoom-meeting.
OIFE Virus Workout

So there was a part of me that made sure there would be stuff to do at home in order not to get bored after my work was done – without powerchair hockey training and matches, or without the chance to plan something last minute and go to meet friends. The three months of lockdown, in reality, turned out to be quite a busy period. Not only due to work stuff, but fortunately because many of the appointments and events I was afraid to lose, became virtual. So honestly, I think I have been part of many more events, educational seminars and classes than ever before. Also, I was positively surprised by how active the OI community was in those weeks, and how much it meant for me to see and be part of it.

There has been so much going on – from informational and medical webinars to recreational initiatives that brought us together and gave us the chance to meet and talk and get to know more about ourselves, about each other, about OI and, last but not least, to meet many new people. The OIFE Virus Workout was for me a big thing. For a while I was thinking I should find a way to keep myself fit. And I have always found it so hard to exercise in a way that did not have the taste or the look of the boring physiotherapy after a fracture. I wanted to find a more active and demanding opportunity to work out. Thanks to Virus Workout training by myself became fun, because I was not alone while doing it. Also everyone online had their very own way of facing the training and the very same struggles that I had with some of the exercises on the videos. Getting the chance to train in an adapted way lead me to look for more of those videos, and now I am training on a regular basis from home, following some videos and knowing better how much to push myself. 

Also, the organization of the AGM took a lot of effort and time and it was great to see it succeed and to be part of it. I think OIFE never had so many people together in a meeting from all over the world. And as the OIFE Communication Manager, this switched on a light about the need to promote more of those kinds of activities, as they allow us to get in touch with larger groups of people than real-life events. One of the things that I loved the most was to see how many wishes arrived for the #Wish4OI campaign. It was the first time OIFE really had a “strategic” approach towards Wishbone Day, promoting an international campaign. It was somehow risky as we could not be sure it would work out. And this is why it was so good and satisfying to see how many people from so many different countries decided to share their wishes. 

Being an active part of the OI Community in these last three months made me feel part of a world that, even with the utmost respect of the virus, not only did not stop completely, but kept going and went further beyond: growing stronger, establishing new relationships and looking forward for future adventures and meetings. 

This COVID 19 will keep us company for a while more and will keep affecting our daily lives. So yes, we need to keep being cautious, we need to keep paying attention, doing social distancing, using masks and protections and following the rules we are given. But we should never give up our hopes.

Every one of us have their own safe harbors where we go when things go wrong or bad to find peace and comfort. I have been reminded, once more, that the OI community is one of those harbors for me. 

So stay tuned, enjoy the magazine and look forward to new OIFE initiatives!

Written by: Anna Rossi – OIFE Communication Manager

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