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

disability

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

Riding For The Disabled Association: Helping To Train Billy

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Billy is a young pony that loves to look around and be the first one to know what’s going on. He is a very sweet curious boy. I love riding him; I fell in love with riding him the first ever lesson we had together. There’s nothing quite like the bond between a pony and its rider.

Recently I was riding Billy in one of my lessons when we went out on a hack in the woods. Riding him now made me think about how far he has come from being the new little boy at the stables. I remember when I first started to ride him last year helping with his training. I helped him learn the ropes of working as an RDA pony.

In the beginning I worked with Billy a lot to try and improve his focus so that he didn’t look out of the riding school as much. He is now so much better but he wouldn’t be him if he wasn’t just a little bit nosey. Billy and I have done lots of work together practising 10 metre circles, doing loops and going in and out of cones. I then started to put halts in to make sure he was listening to me but also to keep him interested and engaged in lessons.

When I go horse riding I do have a lead helper however sometimes I do go off the lead rope. Billy and I have done a couple of loops of the riding school off the lead rope together. I have worked with Billy to make sure he stays on the track and goes into the corners. As well as being able to change of rein in the school with other horses and ponies in the school too without him getting distracted or confused or putting his ears back to to the other ponies and horses.

I’m so proud of Billy and how far he has come. He is now able to be ridden by lots more people. He still sometimes forgets to lift up his feet. I love seeing him learn new things. I love that more people get to ride him now; this fills me with joy knowing that others will love and enjoy riding him too. He is definitely a brilliant and sweet addition to the RDA family!

I can’t wait to ride him again soon and too see what he achieves in years to come!

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. Check out other fabulous artwork on Instagram @spoonfulsofkindness.

Lambrusco RDA Horse of the Year 2018

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Lambrusco was one of the very first horses I ever did a horse riding lesson on. I remember the first time I got on him and I could really feel the difference of how high up I was on him compared to the lovely ponies I had been riding before. I was very excited to ride him because I found out that he was a Paralympic horse he went to Beijing with Paralympian Sophie Christiansen.

As the lessons went on I began to forget about how high up I felt and started to fall in love with his kind, caring sweet nature. I have done a couple of Countryside Challenge Competitions with him. Recently Lambrusco and I did a demonstration of The Countryside Challenge Course.

Here is a video of Lambrusco and I doing the demonstration .

Over the years Lambrusco has helped me to build up my confidence and self -esteem. Through doing activities such as doing activities not using the reins or changing the rein and doing 20 metre circles in my lessons which I found tricky the achievements I would have in my lessons would help me to forget about the difficult things going on during the past week.

I sometimes call Lambrusco the big friendly giant or an old teddy bear or old wise man just because of his friendly, calm and inquisitive manner.

I’m so pleased that Lambrusco won this award this year, very well deserved!

I know Lambrusco has helped so many other riders and will continue to do so; he is definitely one very special horse!

Riding for the Disabled Association

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Before I started riding with the RDA I had riding lessons at a different stable. I had to wait ages to do riding with the RDA because the waiting list was so long. To this day I still remember going to the RDA for the first time for my assessment to see what class I should go in. I’d been so excited about the idea but when it came to it I didn’t want to get on. I thought the pony would be like this very naughty one I used to ride. However when I got on this lovely gentle old pony called Barbie even though I was nervous I began to trust her.

This is me with the beautiful Billy.

I’ve now been riding at the RDA for 9 years and I love it! Going horse riding has helped me in ways I thought wasn’t possible. Not only is it good to do because it helps me to improve my balance and strengthen my body but it’s helped me grow in confidence, helped me get through the week when I was getting badly bullied at both primary and secondary school. You could say it’s my rock and I am always looking forward to the next week. It has also helped my mental health massively. I often say to people it’s funny you know because I trust the horses and ponies I ride more than humans.

Riding the celebrity pony of the stables Forester at The Countryside Challenge Regionals 2011.

This is Bonnie and I at The Countryside Challenge Nationals 2012.

The very cheeky but lovely pony Eddie.

I love all the horses and ponies at South Bucks RDA, some of them have been in the Paralympics. I love to talk to the horses when I ride them as well. I have done the RDA Countryside Challenge Competitions. A couple of times I have been to the regionals and once to the nationals. Once the pony I was riding at the regionals called Eddie was so cheeky he wasn’t allowed to participate in another RDA Countryside Challenge again ! I love how all the horses and ponies have their own personalities and cheeky things they like to do.

1st round of The Countryside Challenge 2018. Riding the fantastic Pieces.

In our lessons we have leaders to help us they volunteer for the RDA and without all the volunteers riding these amazing animals would not be possible. Even some of our riding instructors are volunteers too. The volunteers help us during our lessons sometimes we get to ride unled so they help us to make sure we are safe they are all very helpful and I’m always learning new ways to help me ride.

Here I am riding the brilliant Yogi with my amazing helper.

In our lessons we practice things such as making sure our ponies and horses walk in a straight line, changing the reins, practising different sized circles, riding round obstacles, and I have done some trotting in the past! In the summer we sometimes go on hacks in the woods.

Going for a hack in the woods.

Horse riding gives me so much pleasure and I have so many happy and funny memories that I will have for treasure for ever. My sister has recently become a volunteer which I’m super proud of. My dream one day is to have my own horse! If you’re thinking about trying horse riding my advice would be try it I am so glad I got on Barbie and ever since then I haven’t stopped. If you’re thinking about volunteering at RDA try it you might come back home telling funny stories round the dinner table.