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Africa with Autism

September 12, 2016 0 Exhibitors

ao16-africa-with-autism2This time last year, mum Melanie Cowpland and 9-year old daughter Sophia who was diagnosed with autism when she was 4 yrs old, were getting prepared to set off on a journey of a lifetime. Their intention was to travel from East London (UK) to East London (South Africa) on motorbike to raise awareness of autism. However, this was no ordinary motorbike and they didn’t want to stick to tarmac either.

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The bike in question was a Russian-built Ural 2-wheel drive machine with sidecar, thus they could pick and choose the routes of highest interest and experience.

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As if riding the length of Africa wasn’t challenging enough, as she had no real experience of a motorbike, Mel had to first learn to ride a motorbike to expedition level … then came survival training for both mother and daughter, and the biggest challenge of all – travelling on a journey like this with autism.

Fortunately Mel is an experienced traveller, artist, author and spiritual coach, all attributes that helped her along the way. ao16-africa-with-autism1

So, starting in December 2015, did they complete their 9 month mission? They sure did, no problem whatsoever. Well, that’s not strictly true, but as Mel & Sophia attended the ADVENTURE OVERLAND SHOW  last September and they will be back this year, you can find out first hand about the highs and lows they experienced along the way.

ao16-africa-with-autism3Raising funds by selling t-shirts, stickers and loom bands (Sophia’s idea), all funds will be going to the Adventure Autism Foundation, set up by Melanie Cowpland with GivingWorks, for the funding of their challenge. The excess amount raised will be donated to National Autistic Societies who does a huge amount of work to promote better understanding of autism and support people with the condition, their families and carers.

Their website can be viewed here

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Mel and the Ural pictured at Adventure Overland Show 2015, she was busy all day long.

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Mel & Sophia just leaving AO`15. This is how the Ural looked last year, but Mel had to ‘demilitarise’ the colour scheme by adding a zebra livery – olive drab or camouflage paintwork is not good choice when driving in Africa!

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