The Theatre Shed: Shed’s Shorts Cabaret 2019

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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

ALFIE Student:Animal Experience Course Diary

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(Photo from BCA College)

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.

14th January 2019

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.

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21st January 2019

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.

28th January 2019

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.

A Letter To The Education System

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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!

The Power of a Hashtag: #DisabledPeopleAreHot

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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.

Dance and Disability

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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.

I’m A Barbie Girl: Representation of Disabilities Shown Through Children’s Toys

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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,

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/47212877?fbclid=IwAR0uCNBZ-GStQph4XvP9iG8GUqNxz3D7zWTKc3Rc2guxBwqG9zIj7M8lNlw

YOOCAN: A Supportive Online Community For The Disabled

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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!

Website: https://yoocanfind.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/yoocandoanything/?hl=en

 

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Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover

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On the 3rd December 2018 it is International Day of People with Disabilities. So I thought I would do a blog post on a few of the discrimination and ignorance’s I have faced or even face on a daily basis.

I have Cerebral Palsy Right Hemiplegia I was diagnosed with this condition when I was in year 2 of Primary School. I have had many years of comments said to me as well as opinions about my disability. I am 20 now and I can honestly say the comments haven’t really stopped and it is from people of all ages.

Don’t get me wrong I really don’t mind people asking me questions about my disability, But I’d rather people asked me when stare at me for a while and try and work out what’s “wrong with me”.

Often when I go out to the shops people see the driver park in a disabled car parking space. I put my blue badge out get out of the car, and that’s when I get the looks and then the comments. ” That’s a disabled spot let a disabled person have that space ” or maybe another disabled person wants to park in the disabled parking spot I am in and that’s when I get told to move. I have had on quite a few occasions people walk to the car and check I have a blue badge. I remember I used to have a helper at college and we went out into the community I said I had a blue badge and they said “how come you have one but some of the students with walking aids don’t “.

When I am out in public and I need to go to the bathroom sometimes I will use the disabled toilet. This could be because I need more space and sometimes my walking can go a bit funny as my legs can shake, so I find this toilet easier and safer to get too as it can be closer too. However when I sometimes come out of the bathroom people look at me and I just know what they are thinking. Once this lady in a wheelchair got so angry I did try and tell her about my condition and that I was disabled but she just said ” excuses excuses young people today are lazy and have no respect “.

Yes I can walk but I did at secondary school and college use a wheelchair as I was having lots of non- epileptic seizures.  It was decided that it would be safer and better for me to use my wheelchair as my seizures made me very tired and my balance anyway is not very good due to my disability. I do use my wheelchair if I go on trips out for example around a museum which I know I will have long walking distances. This is because my legs get extremely tired and I could just fall to the floor.

I get this said to me quite a bit especially when other disabled parents ask me do you go to this group or that group. I might say I hope to see my friends soon or I might see some at Stagecoach at the weekend. They then want to know what social group I met them at. They then want to know what conditions they have and when I say they are able bodied the parents looked quite surprised! I do have friends who also have disabilities but I also have friends who are able bodied.

Being Disabled I have found it harder to get onto college courses. Before I talk about my disability things seem to be going ok but once it’s mentioned it suddenly goes the other way. For example a tutor knew I was disabled and was willing to have me on their course. I am normally allowed to have extra time, a reader etc in tests or exams. In this course I would have to do exams practical and written in each of the units I would be taught. However the exam board would not allow me to have extra time ect so I could not do the course. I have found it very hard to get onto lots of courses due to the way others see my disability.

I want others to know that not all disabilities are visible ! Our disabilities do not define us and we are more than the labels society gives us ! In fact that having a disability is probably not the most interesting thing about me!

This amazing artwork is done by the very talented Solanna. Checkout other fabulous artwork on Instagram @spoonfulsofkinddness.