Phoebe has begun her Antarctic-style first right here in Britain, while crushing stereotypes with each footstep.
Teaming up with her polar teammate Dwayne Fields they have decided to work together to change society’s image of the typical explorer and crowdfund to take a group of young, underprivileged people to Antarctica in 2021.
“For different reasons we feel underrepresented in both the media and society when it comes to showing what an adventurer looks like and where they are from,” explains Phoebe, who has given up her Christmas for the last few years to raise money for charity by undertaking different self-devised challenges here in Britain.
“I was always told black people just didn’t do this kind of thing,” says Dwayne, “that I shouldn’t follow this path because, after all, no one else like me was doing it.” Growing up in east London he fell in with the wrong crowd where he was confronted with gang violence, but he found his escape in the outdoors. Since then has walked to the North Pole and last year, along with Ordnance Survey, led a group of underprivileged young people to the top of Ben Nevis in a ‘Street to Peak’ programme, after which several of them went on to gain employment and pursue their own adventures.
Tired of seeing lists of the ‘Top Adventurers in the world’ which don’t represent diversity or acknowledge the need to open up the outdoor for everyone and constantly being courted by media who say they wanted to change the image of adventure but never followed through, Phoebe and Dwayne decided that they needed to take action themselves. Setting up #WeTwo they are embarking on the first in a trio of special missions starting on November 18, 2019.
“We’re going to walk from the seabirds at Dunnet Head – the northernmost point of mainland Britain and end at The Lizard – the true southern tip of the country,” says Phoebe, “it’s a journey of around 1,300km – which is the same distance we intend to cover in Antarctica itself the year after and will take us 40 days – over Christmas.”
“Throughout the expedition we will connect with Scout groups and schools in underprivileged areas so that the children can see what we’re doing, can ask us questions and see with their own eyes that anyone no matter what their gender, their upbringing or their colour they too can be an adventurer,” adds Dwayne.
“’It’s not about planting flags, it’s about planting seeds’ is the #WeTwo motto,” says Phoebe, “and when we get back from the Antarctic expediton in 2020, the year after, in 2021 we will be taking a group of underprivileged young people to the White Continent by expedition ship to create the next generation of ambassadors – for adventure, for wildlife and the environment through our #WeTwo Foundation. It’s our aim that #WeTwo will eventually become #WeToo.”
The team are travelling to Scotland by train today (18 November, 2019) and leave Dunnet Head on November 19, and are aiming to have the expedition completed by January 1, 2020. They will be doing it on foot and rollerskis and pulling their equipment in specially made wheeled sleighs – named Walter and Wilma – to mimic an Antarctic expedition. Along the way they will highlight wildlife conservation projects and environmental initiatives to show that you can adventure responsibly.
They will be asking people to come and walk sections with them and consider donating to their crowdfunding site www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/WeTwo.
The team will be posting their progress in videos and photos on their social channels @PhoebeRSmith and @DwayneFields.