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Changing attitudes- Setting an example

WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
Hi all, 
         I hope that this post finds you all well in these strange times. Please, if I may, I would like to share this with you as I am interested to know what people's thoughts on it are and if feel you would like to then please do share your experiences. 
I am in my mid twenties and I have Cerebral Palsy. Whilst at school I used to give talks to other year groups about what it was like to live with a disability and linked this in with Anti-Bullying days held at school. It has always been a passion of mine to educate people, particularly children, about disability as I believe this is one way to try to reduce prejudice. However, as a teenager, I really struggle with my disability emotionally, and so I closed down and as a result I did not continue with my passion. Now I am older and have some life experience I am really keen to rediscover my passion and to share my experience with both disabled and able bodied students. I believe, due to my experience as an adult, I am able to widen this and share the importance of talking, in whatever form, about how we are feeling as well as self-belief and confidence. I feel I have a rough outline of a plan  as to how I may do this but would be really interested to know if people have any thoughts on this such as whether you feel there is a place for this in schools, if you have any suggestions of charities who may already do this or if you would like to share experiences of your time at school. I believe our time in education is crucial, but not only in terms of learning but also in how we feel about ourselves and the shape of our futures. When I left school I was lost but thankfully with the support my family and a little determination I have been blessed with some really great experiences despite my disability. I want to help other disabled and able bodied youngsters see that there are many positive opportunities out there and though it is tough and by no means a guarantee, hope, confidence and self belief can help on the journey that is life. I do acknowledge that for some, due to circumstances beyond their control, this can be difficult but feel there is any opportunity to help those as well. As a youngster, disabled role models such as teachers were rare and I think it highlighted for me opportunities were unlikely, I want to prove that this is not always the case and try to support where I can. I may not be very good at it and it may not succeed but I believe it is worth a try. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Many thanks. 


  • Oxonlady
    Oxonlady Member Posts: 459 Pioneering
    WestHam06, Well done, I do support your initiative and I believe it is imperative that pupils are educated about disability, chronic illness and the effects of these on people's lives. 
    I may be able to contribute more to this discussion but unfortunately I am extremely fatigued currently. I can barely keep awake. Best wishes to all. 
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @Oxonlady
                            I am sorry to hear of your extreme fatigue currently, I do hope things improve for you as and when. Thank you so much for your support it means a great deal. I too am in agreement that pupils need to be educated and I really hope that I am able to have a positive impact. Thank you. 
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 15,152 Disability Gamechanger
    @WestHam06 I would fully support your plan and think it is an excellent idea. It is so important that education around disability comes at an early age. Maybe it would be good if you could link in with some inspirational disabled people who have really had some outstanding achievements.

    Another area I think would be invaluable is that children understand that some of their friends live with adults who have different disabilities and illness and how this impacts on their life too. I say this as I am disabled and my son was 10 year old when it happened. He had to get used to a new life too, I could no longer drive, take him to school, go on outings and he had to help with with some tasks which he has never complained about. In fact in the beginning he wouldnt let anyone else push me in my wheelchair.

    He has been an inspiration and I know how many young carers are out there but do their peers really understand the challenges these young people have ?

    I wish you luck in your project and happy to assist in anything
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    My apologies @Oxonlady, I meant to have also added to my last post that please do, if and when you feel able, add to the conversation, I am certain that you will have so much value to add and I look forward to hearing from you when you are ready. Best wishes and take care. Thank you. 
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @janer1967
                              Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, it takes courage and is greatly appreciated. It is really interesting as I haven't really thought about this aspect of disability but it is vitally important that young careers do have their voices heard and experiences understood. I know that my younger siblings help me as I need it but it is generally my Mum who cares for me. I imagine it can be very difficult for a child to have to adjust to a new set of circumstances, your son sounds truly inspiring. Please may I ask, do you feel your son was supported at school in dealing with his home circumstances and how do you feel he was treated by his peers? Please don't answer if you don't feel you want too. 

    I also like the idea of linking in with disabled people who have achieved some truly outstanding achievements as well as those who have achieved in their own lives for example no-one thought I would ever work but I have done. 

    Thank you so much for your support with this and your brilliant ideas, I greatly appreciate them and hope that I can make the positive impact that I would like too. I think it will take time and a lot of hard work but I am willing to do this as I passionately believe in it. I will be sure to keep people updated and share in the experience. Thank you. 
  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 15,152 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi again and in answer to your questions

    My son was fully supported in school they were fantastic, they had been keeping an eye on him as his dad left us a few months before I had my amputation. They used to come and pick me up if I needed to go to any assemblys or anything.

     My son was also awarded a bravery award through ambulance as he called them when I collapsed due to sepsis, the ambulance service came to school brought the ambulance and did a talk to the whole school and awarded my son with his certificate and the local press and radio were there too (a real proud mummy moment)

    His peers have also supported him, I have always encouraged him to bring them home so they see first hand what it is like for him (not all negative though) and they have often come with us shopping and stuff. They also go together to places I can no longer take him like swimming and stuff .

    I make sure he still has a childhood and doesnt have to miss out on anything if I can possibly do so. 

    He surprises me every day with how well he has coped with so much change and upset in his young life but I am sure it will make him a better adult 

    Any further help just ask
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @janer1967
                              Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your son sounds as though he is one remarkable young man. I am pleased to hear that both his peers and school have been supportive, it is so important and I wonder whether this is the case across the country, I certainly hope so. Thank you again and I will definitely ask for help as and when if that is ok with you. Sending you and your son the warmest of wishes. Thank you. 
  • 66Mustang
    66Mustang Community Co-Production Group Posts: 6,521 Disability Gamechanger
    I was in two minds as to whether to post my thoughts as a few people have been abusing the system by marking negative posts that they disagree with as spam but I'll go ahead.

    I think some people in the examples on here have been lucky with their school experiences. I found that school was horrible and that school children when in a group can be the most malicious people - alone they are not so bad - my assumption is that there is peer pressure to join in with the bullying. It was only after I left school and entered the adult world that I learnt that many adults are quite decent and not intent on harming others.

    This is just an idea but would university students be a good audience for your idea? By this age they have often matured a bit, are a bit more open minded, and are willing to take on other peoples points of view. In my experience students are also quite liberal on the whole and willing to listen to and support minority groups (such as disabled people).

    I hope you can understand where I am coming from :)
  • Dkaveney1
    Dkaveney1 Member Posts: 8 Connected
    I think your sharing thoughts is a great idea and also very brave.
  • Geoark
    Geoark Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,384 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @WestHam06, I know Scope were doing something similar at one point, but having had a quick look could not see any information. @Adrian_Scope do you know if Scope still does this?

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,265 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @WestHam06 - I see in so many different ways you wish to educate young people about disability, & applaud this. I'm also agreeing with @66Mustang in part; not that it affected me, but bullying played a part in both of my children's lives. My son opted for a 6th form college, where he met like minded young people, & his former bullies (which he'd had since primary school) had left education.
    Disability, & any other issues, would ideally be open for discussion with many children, but I concur with @66Mustang that this might be more appropriate for some students that have more maturity aged 16+ or at Uni.
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @66Mustang
                               Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us, it takes courage to do this and I thank you for feeling able to do this, I greatly appreciate any thoughts or ideas posted. I completely agree with what you say about students feeling peer pressured to behaviour in a specific way and unfortunately that includes trying to isolate people, particularly those from minority groups. I find this really sad.  I'm sorry to hear that you had a negative experience it school, it can't of been easy for you but am pleased to hear things improved as you entered the adult world. Maturity is key and so I thank you for sharing your idea of aiming this at university students, this is definitely worth exploring  I suppose part of my thinking was to try to reach out to those who are in school now who may be struggling with a vast range of barriers that they may see as impacting their lives but thank you for the idea, it is so worth having an open conversation with older students as they may also be able to lend their thoughts and experiences to it. I hope, if you feel you would like to, we can continue to discuss the idea.  Thank you. 
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @Geoark
                          Thank you so much for your post. Are you referring to the Scope Role Models programme? If you are, I have inquired about this before but unfortunately the programme was not running in my area and now, to my understanding, it is no longer running. I appreciate your thinking though, thank you for taking the time to reply and for asking @Adrian_Scope. Thank you. 
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @Dkaveney1
                                Thank you for your comment, it is greatly appreciated. Thank you. 
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @chiarieds
                           Thank you so much for your comments and ideas, I greatly apricate them. Firstly I am sorry to hear that both your children experienced bullying, it can't have been easy for them or for you as a parent. I'm pleased to hear things improved for your son when he moved to Sixth Form, as I said to @66Mustang maturity has a key role to play and that is why I welcome the idea of aiming this at older students. I think my initial thinking was to aim this at secondary school students as I suppose my thinking is to reach out to students who may be facing difficulties right now particularly with regard to barriers which they think may impact life for long periods of time. I want to support students in seeing how barriers can be worked around whilst also acknowledging this can be hard. Aiming it at the appropriate age group is key so thank you for sharing your thoughts, it's definitely worth exploring. I think that is another aspect I am currently exploring, how best to approach it and from what angle. I greatly appreciate all of your thoughts and ideas and if you would like too, hope we can continue this discussion. Thank you. 
  • Richard_Scope
    Richard_Scope Posts: 3,106

    Scope community team

    Unfortunately, the Role Models programme is not currently running. Through my working experiences with Scope and in my own personal life I have found that working with primary aged children is really beneficial to removing the 'otherness'. When my daughter started at primary school I made a point of getting elected as vice-chair of the PTA. My reasons were two-fold; I knew with my connections I could help the school and that it would be beneficial for the children and the parents to see me around the place. I would like to think that in the 5 years I performed the role that young people have carried that positive image of a disabled person forward into their secondary school life.
    Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead

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  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 741 Pioneering
    Good for you Richard. Very recently the mainstream t.v have begun to use presenters and characters with various disabilities,  however, it is far, far below a representative proportion.   Once, women and b.a.m.e were largely excluded too.    

    Trevor Phillips (chair of equlities commission at the time) said Disablism is institutionalised  and worse than Racism.  He could have added Ageism.  Disabled  people fracture their efforts by dividing into single disability  splinters, but do even worse by failing to unite with Age campaigns.  There is a consumer programme where, greatly daring, the  presenters are old.  But, as if they are subhuman  freaks, they can't  be in a mixed group, appearing  in a team of presenters of whatever age, but instead have been put in a caged off segregated ghetto of three old women together.   

    Thank goodness the t.v. management  haven't  made a similar segregated 'crips' show.  It would be pretty freaky if  the entire presenting team commenting on football were all women with long red hair.  Of course women of any hair style are underrepresented, especially  in sport reporting.  Nothing wrong with representative numbers at random, but obviously not all suddenly appearing in one presenting team!.

    But what is good for mobility impaired is good for everyone else, including delivery people, buggy pushers, and old or ill people, injured people, tired people, people with luggage.  A lot of old people accept failing sight, hearing, strength or mobility as an inevitable part of ageing, denying to themselves  they are disabled. But the broken pavements tip up old and young alike, and the old are more likely to break bones, so everyone needs to unite.

    Disability representation, or even male/female representation,  is sadly awry on children's  t.v., which presents a distorted world (with the occasional honorable exception)Check up on children's channels, it's like going back a century.  Adverts for girls, and programmes for girls, feature consumers spoiling the planet with plastic, in a pink glitter indoors world of fairies amd princesses and domestic lives. Male characters vastly outnumber females  outdoors and doing anything interesting or fun, or having jobs.  As with mainstream t.v., an occasional  token wheelchair user may appear.   

    It isn't something  I've seen, but is there a Mr Mcgoo cartoon where the whole point is that having accidents due to blindness  is  funny? There certainly is a nearly blind Simpson's  character whose amusement purpose is mainly to be run over.

    What example do children see? There was recently  a hit play with James Corden called One Man Two Guvnors, which was well produced and acted, and very funny, especially  (?)the bits where one character  (a waiter) has palsy, a bent spine, and repeatedly falls downstairs,  has 'hilarious' (?) trouble controlling his shaking hands and shuffling gait, and gets thrown against walls, slammed behind doors and hit by other characters,  until the highpoint where the heroes take bats and beat him unconscious  or dead, which is funny because ...... anyone who is old and /or has palsy ... what?.....should be beaten or killed????   The otherwise excellent late Victoria  Wood wrote a similar character as an older waitress, shaking, bent, shuffling, calls for empathy, or for jeering?  
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @Richard_Scope
                                      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us it is greatly appreciated. I am sure that those children absolutely did carry a positive image of disabled people with them as they moved up to secondary school. I wonder if that is where some of my thinking comes from, that there are not enough role models in schools with disabilities as well as in wider society, I would really appreciate your thoughts on this. I totally agree with what you say about primary aged children, I have volunteered at a primary school and worked in early years and I have found that once children have had their questions answered they are generally very accepting. I think that is where I am coming from with aiming this at secondary school children, as for some this will be the first time they have come across disability. I am currently in the very early stages of working with my old secondary school in developing mentoring opportunities as I believe students, both disabled and able bodied, may benefit from seeing a disabled adult and hearing their experiences. I think educating students is one of the key ways forward in creating equal opportunities for all. I would greatly appreciate any further thoughts you may have on this? Please may I also ask, do you think the role models programme will start up again? Thank you. 
  • WestHam06
    WestHam06 Member, Scope Volunteer Posts: 1,396 Pioneering
    Hi @newborn
                           Thank you for sharing your comments. I appreciate there is a great deal of under representation of many different groups and still a long way to go until we reach equality, however, I feel we must continue to build on the progress we have made and continue to educate people where possible. @Richard_Scope has provided a shining example of how by being visible and showing that people with disabilities are capable of a wide range of roles we will continue to make progress. Yes, progress is slow in many areas of society but we must continue to prove it is absolutely the right way forward and to prove this to people who do not believe in it. I have come across much discrimination over the years and thought it hurts and that hurt runs deep, it spurs me on to prove them wrong.  I hope this makes sense. Thank you. 
  • dolfrog
    dolfrog Member Posts: 441 Pioneering

    A large part of the problem is the structure of the UK education system, which is not based on the international research of the last 2 or 3 decades regarding human brain development, and how we all have various stages of information processing development. I never knew any of this until i had to initially advocate for our sons communication disability during their early years, which helped me identify and understand my own life long sensory information processing disability. 
    During recent years I have set up and help run an UK based support organisation for families disability, which was disbanded about 5 years ago due to what i call disability discrimination from other organisation members who did not want to recognise my form of that specific disability, which was more due to the so called UK medical professionals who should have been explaining the various type of my communication disability but were and still are only willing to explain one of the issues that they are able to make money from by providing some form of technology. 
    Over the years i have become an information collector regarding my disability and the many related disabilities, creating research paper compilations, and sharing the links to these multiple compilations and explaining the complex nature of my families disability to those willing to listen.
    To go back to children we need to educate those running our education and health care systems as to the complex nature of all disabilities which is more about neurodiversity (we are all different, it is that some are more different than others), and then to find ways to explain these issues during the various stages of human brain development to our children who are in the various stage of our education system. 

    Keep up the good work 


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