Last weekend I had an amazing time with my Theatre Shed family and Brighton Shed. It was our first day of The Theatre Shed going on tour. With a our production CapeAbility, which is all about each and everyone of us finding our unique super powers and showing the world that we are all CAPEABLE!
Throughout this whole production we explore super powers, friendships , mental heath and struggles in the education system.
We performed at The Brighton Open Air Theatre the day was great and we were really lucky with the lovely warm sunny weather. We did two performances of CapeAbility during the day.
I really enjoyed doing the movement pieces and having to use my imagination to help create some of the scenes of the production. I enjoyed using drums to help create tension during some parts of the show.
I loved performing at an open air theatre as I have never performed at an open air theatre I was a bit nervous to begin with but by the end of the day I didn’t want it to end.
I found that performing at an open air theatre helped me to develop my acting skills because it made me feel more aware of what was going happening on stage and how to communicate with the audience at different angles as your audience is all around you.
I really loved the day and can’t wait till our next show!
Growing up I remember watching lots of different Children’s TV programs but very few of these programs featured a character with a disability. The only program I really remember watching as a child that featured a disabled character was The Story Of Tracey Beaker. However I only started watching The Story Of Tracey Beaker when I was old so what about before then?
I was diagnosed with my disability when I was in year 2 of primary school. My teacher at the time noticed I was having difficulties compared to my classmates and that’s when the many hospitals appointments started. I remember at the time I didn’t really know what was going on all I knew was that I had to spend days off school to go to the hospital some where near and some felt very far away.
I remember the doctors and my parents explaining to me that I had a disability and that I had some brain damage that my other friends didn’t have but everyone is unique and life would be boring if we were all the same. During this time I did start to tell my friends at playtime that my brain was a bit different to theirs as I got used to saying I had a disability that’s when things started to change. Friends drifted away and started to make fun of me not wanting me to be with them. This was hard for me as I didn’t understand why because to me I hadn’t changed. I was still the same old me.
I remember coming home from school sitting on the sofa watching TV and I couldn’t see what was wrong with me just that I was different but I didn’t understand why I was treated differently. As I grew up I understood more and more what a disability was, how it made me different and how others saw me but to me I was still the same.
I remember watching TV programs and thinking I was strange as I couldn’t see anyone else like me but to me I was normal. As I got older I understood more and more about my condition and why others treated me differently but when watching the TV sometimes I felt strange as I couldn’t see a person in the programs quite like me. Until I was older and started watching The Story Of Tracey Beaker which had disabled characters in.
Not seeing characters with disabilities in things I watched when I was younger now looking back really affected me. I think it made me feel that I was strange a freak as I couldn’t identify myself with anyone from my favourite programs but my friends and other classmates could. It made me feel that whatever I did I wouldn’t fit in and when your a child all you want to do is be able to fit in with everyone else; to feel accepted and liked by others.
This is why I think it is brilliant that the very popular pre-school show Peppa Pig will have the permanent feature of Mandy Mouse starting in 2020.
I believe that it is very important to have disabled characters in TV shows for children who are very young like preschool years. I think that having characters like these introduced on Children’s TV is important as it helps to show young children that everyone is different and that we are not all the same. I also think that having more disabled characters on Children’s TV will massively help young disabled children feel less alone and it may help them to understand more about what having a disability is like and the types of things they may face. I also believe that if we show characters like these on Children’s TV from a young age then children may not feel like they need or should pick on or bully others that outside society’s norm. As well as this I believe it sends the message to children from a young age that someone might be disabled but disabled people can still do things and you might have more in common with them than you think!
If you are a regular reader of my blog or follow me on my social media platforms, you will know that I am passionate about talking about disability. I want to help raise awareness of living with a disability but also help others who have disabilities too to feel not alone. I also want to show others that we might be disabled but we are still have lots of things in common with able bodied people. After all what is normal?
Image from Canva.
I decided to start a blog as I already had an instagram account called defeating disability which I used to document my life though photos. I then decided that I wanted to write about my experiences and thoughts this then lead onto me creating defeating disability the blog! My first ever blog post was last year back in May 2018 and it was about The Riding for the Disabled Association.
Image from Google Images.
I did intend to talk about my disability online from the beginning as I first started defeating disability on Instagram. The first ideas for starting a blog was because I wanted to share my experiences with living life with a disability and show others just because someone maybe disabled that doesn’t mean they can not achieve want they want and that we all have hopes and dreams for our future disabled or not. As well as this around the time I started the blog I was looking into supported living so I wanted to document my experiences with going and living in supported living. Showing others that a future is possible and that a future comes in many different shapes, ways and sizes.
Image from Google Images.
Yes, In the beginning I wasn’t sure if writing about my disability was a good idea because I wasn’t sure how it would be perceived. But now looking back I am so glad I did because I have been able to help other disabled young people . From writing and talking about my disability I now get quite a few messages from people saying that they now are beginning to see that not all disabilities are visible and that if someone comes out of a disabled cubical that doesn’t mean they are ” faking ” being disability.
Image from Google Images.
I get quite a few comments now from people telling me when they read my blog posts they now have a bit or more of a understanding about what it is like to live with an invisible disability daily.
I don’t just talk about disability other topics included Mental Health, Performing Arts, Life ,Recipes and lots more. I have some very exciting new content ideas I hope to use soon!
Image from Google Images.
This is definitely an area I need to work on! I like to lots of photos and pictures in my posts to help break down my writing I also like to use photos that help to illustrate what I’m writing about.
I enjoy blogging about my disability because I am able to share my experiences and this can really help others with disabilities to feel not alone.I also have had messages from people who have disabled relatives or friends saying some of my posts have really helped them to understand more about things disabled people can face and live with on a daily basic . I love writing about my experiences with Riding for the Disabled and how this incredible charity has helped me for many years and continues to help me. I have had messages from lots of people saying that by reading my posts about RDA they now want to do horse riding lessons which I think is just amazing! I enjoy also raising awareness for invisible disabilities.
This one is a hard question for me as I feel that they all my blog posts have a powerful message to share. But if I had to choose I’d probably go for:
1. How horse riding helped me through getting bullied ( TRIGGERWARNING) – This blog post is about how horse riding helped me to keep going when I was getting bullied at school and just wanted to not be here anymore.
2. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover- This blog post is all about living with an invisible disability.
3. A letter to the education system- This blog post is all about the struggles I have had trying to access higher education with a disability.
Images from Google Images and Instagram.
I think that their are starting to become more disabled Bloggers and Youtubers entering the community but I think we still have along way to go. I think more brands and companies could work more with disabled Bloggers and Youtubers for example by dong more collabs. I think that disability still needs to be represented in the media more as we are part of society.
Image from Canva
Sometimes I may find it hard but I try and find inspiration from other bloggers or I do sometimes like using websites such as Pinterest to look for ideas. I will always try and write about just normal things I do as I enjoy sharing what I’ve been up too I can sometimes relate it to a disability storytime .
Image from Google Images.
I think that blogging about disability can help to change people’s perceptions however I think blogging about disability can also help others to understand the challenges disabled people can face.More importantly I think blogging about disability and not making it a big thing can show others that the disabled community has more in common with them as they may think!
I tag anyone who is a disabled Blogger/YouTuber who wants to be involved with this tag created by blogger Elin Williams who is behind the disability and lifestyle blog “My Blurred World”.
The Theatre Shed is a charity which “is committed to raising aspirations of local children and young adults, irrespective of their background or ability through sustainable,wonderful innovative, inspiring and inclusive theatre”. At Theatre Shed we use British Sign Language at our weekly workshops and in every production we do!
Recently at The Theatre Shed we performed for two nights only our fabulous 2019 cabaret show called Shed’s Shorts. For this show we all came up with our very own creations of performance work; From signing, dancing, poems and more.
I was in a dance group we decided we wanted to do a dance using a song from The Greatest Showman. The song we chose was The Greatest Show.
We came up with our own dance routine; as the song is quite big and the opening we wanted to keep the dance simple but also make a big statement.
For the dance we used big hoops with different colour ribbons on to create more interesting movement. We wore non patterned simple clothes to help the dance have more impact as we wanted the ribboned hoops to be the star of our dance routine.
During some of our dance we did not use the hoops instead we used simple big movements with our body. We then used the hoops again but this time making interesting shapes with our hoops.
Through out our dance we used different levels by doing this our dance became more interesting and engaging for the audience.
At the end of the show all the cast came together on stage to perform the song Think Like A River from our Christmas Production The Snow Queen 2018.
If you would like to know more about The Theatre Shed and the amazing things we do or you can donate to The Theatre Shed by becoming a Shedlight please visit:https://thetheatreshed.co.uk
Earlier this year in January I started doing a Animal Care Course for adults with disabilities at college.
Throughout the weeks I got to learn about how to care for a range of different animals from domestic, livestock, reptiles and zoo animals.
Whilst on the course I had a range of practice tasks to do however I also learnt some terminology used in the animal care industry. For example the two types of cleans that are done when caring for animals.
On the first day of the course we did a practical in the rodent room. I learnt about fat tailed gerbil; This breed of gerbil uses it’s tail like a camels hump to store fat so it can survive in its natural habitat the desert.
When I was working in the reptile house I learnt about how to correctly hold a variety of reptiles from a blue tongue sink, geckos, bearded dragons and snakes. I also learnt about the features some reptiles have to scare off their predators.
I really enjoyed caring for the college’s many ferrets. I learnt how to hold them as well as how to pick one up correctly when putting them back into their enclosures after giving them time to explore the room for their exercise.
4th February 2019
I found it surprisingly interesting and fun working in the invertebrates house. I prepared food such as pear for some of the insects. I looked at each animals food chart to see what they needed and how much they needed. I found watching how some of the insects eat really interesting, I gave bugs to the insects using tongs.
11th February 2019
I was working with the guinea pigs doing spot cleans in all the enclosures. I put down clean straw for their bedding as well as fresh hay in their hay nets for them to eat. I also did sweeping and animal handling.
25th February 2019
I enjoyed this week massively as we were working in the zoo department helping to care for some of the colleges zoo animals. First I made a food box toy for the colleges resident Genet. I filled an old cardboard box with pine cones, little bits of cut up dead chick and newspapers. We did this so that the Genet has to search for its food! I also helped to prepare the otters food by putting crabs and other shell fish into a dog Kong toy . This is done to make the otters work for their food. As well as this I prepared the lemurs food by cutting up pieces of carrot. I also prepared the Armadillo’s food by cutting up fruits such as banana and apple.
(Photo from BCA College)
4th March 2019.
This week we got to work in the lambing area we gave and made sure the sheep and their lambs had hay and straw. We were very lucky as we got to see two twin lambs being born!
(Photo from BCA College)
11th March 2019
We were working with the emus and wallabies this week. I mucked out their paddocks and gave the emus their food. I even got to hand fed an emu a grape!
18th March 2019
This week we were back looking after the ferrets. Whilst the ferrets were in their carry cages we cleaned out their enclosures. We let them have a run around;one ferret I was looking after started splashing water from its water bowl everywhere as it had decided to go back into a enclosure.
25th March 2019
This week was rabbit week I helped to do a full clean of one of the rabbit hutches and its run. I also did a lot a sweeping. I spent time stroking the rabbits and even holding some. I loved watching eating dandelions I fed them.
1st April 2019
This week was our last week of doing the course. I was really excited because we got to care for the goats.I had been wanting to look after the goats for ages. When we got to their paddock we tried attaching their leads to their collars so we could take them out for a walk around the college grounds. After the walk we then took willow leaves and put them all around all of the goats enclosures. This was done so that the goats have to climb and stretch for their food. We also gave the alpacas and llama some willow leaves too.
(Simon the goat eating willow leaves)
I really enjoyed doing the Animal Care Course, I would highly recommend it to any animal lover.
I want to talk about the actual practical experiences of a disabled student with mental health conditions applying for courses at college and the frustrations/challenges I encounter.
I am a young adult who is frustrated about the way the education system treats disabled students even before a student officially joins the college. Disabled students have more hurdles to go through compared with able-bodied students and the process takes a good deal longer than normal.
These experiences damage our self-esteem and self-belief and stress the people who care for us, having an impact on the young adult’s family. Not being able to fulfil my ambitions makes me tired, wears me down, makes me feel useless and worthless as I feel like I cannot contribute to society. I might be disabled but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have a career and be as independent as possible.
I feel that I am being denied an education compared to my peers. For example when I’ve gone for course interviews in various subjects I always get told I am unable to do the courses because:
1. I will find it too physically active or demanding.
2. I will not be allowed/the college are not prepared to allow me adaptations to be able to do courses.
3. I will find course work or exams too hard or stressful.
4. Colleges I have been to are thrown when I talk about my mental health conditions as they do not know how to respond to this, let alone how to help me with this on a daily basis.
Going through constant rejection with no after-care support or guidance on courses we could do instead deeply impacts on our mental health. This then can turn into a vicious circle which seems to never end and you can’t see a way out. It becomes scary and frightening and this makes me feel more stuck and trapped as well as extremely fearful of my future: from not only job searching but making sure that I do not become more unwell, unable to give back to society.
We all have dreams and hopes for our future and this isn’t any different for people with disabilities, mental health conditions or long term illnesses.
This makes us feel concerned about the future because we know we can give back to society and,yes, that might not be in a highly paid job but we want to feel valued and feel more accepted by society. We are all different with different skills to bring into different industries for example, catering, health care or retail. Just because we are disabled doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to offer!
In fact we are have a lot to offer; we are determined, resilient and strong. Due to our disabilities we have to come up with new ways to be able to do something an able-bodied person may find easy so we are also great at problem solving! Sometimes our brains work in different ways so we see things differently to others. This means we may be able to notice things others may have never noticed before. Some of us are really good at remembering information and routes like buses and trains timetables or maybe information on other countries. This means that maybe someone with a disability could actually be a fantastic asset to a business!
You might have heard about a very popular hashtag used in the disabled community at the moment. The Hashtag #disabledpeoplearehot created by Andrew Gurza has taken the online disabled community by storm. Disabled people from all around the world are now using this hashtag all over social media.
As a young disabled women I love this hashtag; I think it has such a powerful message that all of us disabled or not could learn from.
Just because we might not fit into the social norm doesn’t mean that we are not like other people our age. Yes we might have to go to more doctor appointments or use aids to help us get around but that doesn’t make us not “pretty” or “hot.”What is the definition of beautiful? What is the definition of hot? What makes us attractive?
We are all individuals if everyone was the same life would be boring.
This hashtag I believe really helps to challenge the stigma around disability and dating. Sometimes if a disabled person has a boyfriend or girlfriend others automatically think that their partner is also disabled. If a disabled person is dating an able bodied person others might just think they are friends or that the other person is their career. It can take others by surprise that a able bodied person is dating or going on a date with a disabled person. This hashtag helps to challenge society’s views on disabled people finding love and having a relationship.
Finally I think that this hashtag helps to empower the disabled community. The hashtag helps others to build up confidence as well as helping people to feel proud of who they are in a time where there is a lot of peer pressure to look a certain way that could be that through the media or school life in the playground.
Every week I have dance class workshops at the theatre groups I attend. When I was younger I also did ballet class once a week. Over the past couple of years I have noticed that dance has a positive impact on my disability. Here are a few ways dancing has helped my disability:
1. Dance does not just help me to stay more fit and active; I find that sometimes dance can help me to express my emotions through a creative outlet without me having to talk to express my emotions and thoughts.
2. Dance helps me to improve my balance as we do a lot of warm up activities that make us need to focus on our balance but also I may need to balance when preparing to do high kicks in our dance routines or fast turns.
3. My disability makes it really hard for me to know the sequence of events. So having to do a dance routine really helps me to work on ways to try and remember a sequence due to the fact that our dances have lots of fast moves one after the other and can be quite quick.
4. I find that we have to use our core muscles a lot to help us stay up right when doing kicks or lifts. So I have found that my upper body strength is improving and that I am able to use my core muscles a lot better now when dancing.
5. I find eye, hand coordination tricky at times however dance helps me to use different parts of my body at the same time. I have found that listening to the music when dancing helps me to keep the rhythm and beat of the dance I am doing.
6. I have found that dance has also helped me to loosen and relax my hand strings. This has helped me a lot as I know can get dismount of the horses and ponies I ride as well as when I am in my riding lessons my legs are more relaxed and not so tight gripping onto the horse.
When I was in Primary School and it was my birthday one of the biggest memories was getting Barbie Dolls as presents at my party. I used to have a box of them under my bed and every year my collection would grow.
I remember at one point all the girls would bring in their Barbie dolls so they could play with them at break and lunch. The playground was just full of lots of different games involving all us girls playing with their dolls together. During playtime lots of us girls would say we wanted to look like or be like our Barbie Dolls.
When I read an article about Barbie creating a range of dolls with disabilities I thought this was fantastic news. One of the biggest reasons I liked this was because I think that if children are playing with these popular toys then to show all the toys having differences would help children learn and understand from a young age that we are all different, unique and special in our own ways. I think it would also help young children to build up self-esteem and confidence.
By having Barbie Dolls with disabilities I think will help disabled children explore, process and understand what a disability is , what their disability means to them and how others may perceive them. I also think that having these dolls would not only help that child but their family too. As parents maybe able to use the dolls to help explain to other family members such as siblings why their sister or brother doesn’t look like the others in their class.
I was diagnosed with my disability when I was in year 2 , I remember going to all these different hospital appointments were I would have to have all these tests and scans. I didn’t really understand what was going on but then I got told I had a disability.
At the time I was diagnosed and didn’t really understand I think having dolls with disabilities would have really helped me to understand more about what I had. I think this Barbie Doll range would be brilliant in children’s hospital waiting rooms and on the children’s wards.
I think that these dolls could help children who are getting bullied because they are disabled as with a doll they may feel less alone .
You can find out more about the new Barbie Doll range,
I remember when I first found out about this online community through Instagram. On Instagram they share stories of many different disabled people from around the world. When I looked at the website a big smile grew across my face. This was because I found a place where disability was embraced and not laughed at.
YOOCAN is an online community where people with disabilities from all over the world can share empowering stories about living life with a disability. Here people write about many topics for example they might do a product recommendation . Or write about what it is like to travel with a disability. Another topic I love to read from is all about other people’s hobbies.
I can’t say how many stories I have read about covering so many different topics. When reading others stories and experiences I feel that I am not alone. I also feel that others get it and understand. It’s a great way to get tips and tricks on things I may find hard to do such as cooking. I have got some good fashion styling tips as well. For example when I wore a splint at school I was bullied for this and wearing one made me feel very self-conscious. I didn’t like showing it so wore trousers quite a lot even in summer. Kids bullied me because I couldn’t wear girls and women’s shoes I had to wear boys shoes as my splint made my shoe size bigger etc. By reading other people’s stories I realised that I wasn’t alone in feeling self- conscious and being bullied for wearing a splint. Reading others experiences made me feel that I was not a freak. I felt like a freak a lot of the time at school as that was one of things other kids called me.
One of the big reasons I love YOOCAN is how people write about their stories and their experiences they have had in a positive way but also keeping it real.
Being part of this community definitely helps me with my confidence and self-esteem as I can also write about my experiences; I find I can really relate to others with thoughts about being a disabled young adult on topics such as having to need more support than others my age. Or when my friends wear high heels but I have to wear flats. Just the simple small day to day things that you wouldn’t really think about or notice.
Lastly I think YOOCAN slogan “do anything” is so positive and sends a very powerful message to everyone. Just because someone has a disability that doesn’t mean they don’t have ambitions and dreams. It doesn’t matter who you are your dreams can come true!