Disability Representation In Children’s TV

disability

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!

To find out more about Peppa Pigs Character: http://www.pretty52.com/entertaining/tv-and-film-peppa-pigs-new-friend-has-parents-choking-up-heres-why-20190404?fbclid=IwAR2wyYjjQ3ZaCObilbJhQRFnBvDR6WW11ru_bvc2q9SyAl8YPl5Cd_pjHWo

My Horse Riding Journey Through The Years So Far….

Riding for the Disabled Association

As some of you may know recently Riding for the Disabled launched their 50 Faces Campaign. I am very lucky and pleased to say I am part of for this campaign. So this got me thinking about how my horse riding and love for horses journey began.

The first time I sat on a horse I was terrified. I only managed a few steps and then just had to get off. You wouldn’t believe me now if I told you. I love going horse riding I look forward to my Saturday morning lessons like mad. I would ride everyday if I could! Going horse riding helps me to stay and be more positive I have found that horse riding and just being with the horses and ponies really does wonders to positively impacting on my mental health.

Just been out on a hack with King.

One primary school holiday I did try horse riding again with Camp Mohawk at a nearby stables to the centre. I remember doing a bit of trotting for the first time with a leader and our riding instructor. When my parents came to lead me around the hacks we would go on. After the summer holidays I decided that I wanted to do weekly lessons at the stables as I enjoyed it so much. At that stables I normally would ride Candy or King. King was a very naughty Pony!

One of my first lessons on Anya.

Whilst riding at this stables my mum came across Riding for the Disabled Association and put me on the waiting list. It was lovely when we got a phone call from South Bucks RDA asking if I would like to come for an assessment as I had been on the waiting list for a very long time. I remember on the way to the stables I was so excited but when I got there I didn’t want to get on. After a bit of persuading I got on and I’m so happy and glad I did. The first pony I ever rode at South Bucks RDA was called Barbie she was lovely by the end of the assessment I didn’t want to get off!

Charlie Girl

And that’s when amazing life changing journey with horses and ponies started. Since that first assessment I have achieved things I never thought would be possible. Horse riding has helped my self esteem and confidence massively. From doing The Countryside Challange and Dressage Competitions at Regional and National level, doing horse riding and horse care as part of my Short Course PE GCSE to meeting Princess Anne!

Rosette from The Countryside Challange 2011.

National Championships with Bonnie 2012.

RDA massively helped me when I was getting bullied. The horses and ponies are like my best friends and I trust them more than people! When I went horse riding I could just forget about the things happening at school. I felt safe and it is a place where I can focus on what I can do and it’s not about what I can’t do. I love all the horses and ponies at RDA with all their different personalities. I have grown a massive bond with the horses and ponies at RDA I call them my Saturday morning pets! The bond between horse and rider is so beautiful, unique and powerful theirs nothing else quite like it!

RDA isn’t just a place where I go riding every week it’s a family. All the grooms and volunteers are amazing without them I wouldn’t of been able to achieve what I have! RDA changed my life and continues too I don’t think I’d still be here if it wasn’t for the RDA. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

To find out more about the RDA visit: https://www.rda.org.uk

Want to meet all of The 50 Faces visit: https://www.rda.org.uk/50-faces/

Body Image & Peer Pressure At School

mental health

This week is Mental Health Awareness week, the theme this year is Body Image. The way bullies treated me through my school life really had a massive negative affected on my mental health and how I saw myself compared to my peer group . It still affects me to this day.

Growing up at school with a disability was very hard for me . I looked different from my peer group as I wore a leg splint on my right leg . I couldn’t wear girls shoes as my splint couldn’t fit into many shoes at all sob I had to wear boys school shoes. I remember their came a time when I had to wear trainers to school and I got picked on a lot because my peer group didn’t understand why I could wear trainers and they couldn’t. I’d get called a teachers pet in class all the time.

I remember I would get bullied because of the designs I had on my splint other kids would say they were childish.As well as calling and shouting out words down the corridor when they saw me from “cripple”or a “spastic” to telling me they would cut off my legs. The bullying from wearing a splint got so bad I decided I wouldn’t wear a skirt to school so that my splint wouldn’t show so much. But of course when it came to summer and the warm weather other girls would bully me for not wearing a skirt but instead still wearing trousers like I did in the colder months. I remember this one time when I took off my splint because sometimes it would rub so much and my foot would be red and sore and another student told me they would break my leg so I wouldn’t need to wear a splint. When I came home at the end of the day I would wish I didn’t have to wear one in the hope the bullies would stop. I just wanted to feel accepted and normal.

Unfortunately the bullying didn’t stop their I was also bullied for having curly hair . At school I remember it was really fashionable to have straight hair, however mine was curly. I remember I used to think I was friends with these’s other girls who were popular. They would pour hot and fizzy drinks in my hair and tell me it was shampoo and that I needed to straighten it. But when I did straighten it they would always say it wasn’t straight enough. Having curly hair really affected me for a very long time but now I am on a journey to loving my natural curly hair but that’s a whole different post in it’s self.

One other massive thing that affected my body confidence growing up was having facial hair. I got bullied loads because of it, not just my peer group or other students in different years but also by some members of staff. Bullies made my life miserable. I began to feel scared just at the thought of having to go to school and knowing people would laugh and point. Walking down the corridors or going to the canteen for lunch was so horrible and scary I was always on edge. Other students would shout at me from down the corridors and call me names like Frida Kahlo. I remember this group of girls who threatened to pour acid on me if I didn’t get rid of it. Other students started to try and make rumours about me; I would sometimes just hear people laughing at me as I walked past as I was trying not to make eye contact wishing the ground would swallow me up.

Harnaam Kaur photo from Instagram.

One of my helpers was really lovely and tried to help me. I remember the day she told me one day about a lady called Harnaam Kaur. Harnaam Kaur also known as the bearded dame is a body positivity warrior and activist. She has a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome at the age of 16 she decided to embrace herself for who she is. She stopped removing her facial hair just because others didn’t like it.

Harnaam really helped me to not feel like a freak and that I wasn’t alone. Bullies made me want to end my life. With all the horrible things that happened to me at school. However Harnaam helped me to stay true to myself. I now get rid of my facial hair but because I want to not because I feel I have to in order to please others!

Though what happened to me was horrible I am now on a never ending journey with trying to be more body positive as well as building up my self -esteem, confidence and self worth.

Find out more about body image: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/body-image-report/exec-summary

Guest Blogger My Dad: How Riding for the Disabled has helped Bryony

Riding for the Disabled Association

Bryony started with the South Bucks branch of Riding for the Disabled (RDA) from the age of 8. As her Dad, I’ve got a lot of pleasure seeing how they have helped her overcome some of her problems whilst riding.

But before we get into that, I must confess that sometime in the last century I was also a keen horse rider: my mum had a horse called Blaze and, given her back problems, I became Blaze’s main rider for a few years. I mucked him out (sometimes), I prepared him for shows and won a few rosettes at the local Pony Club Events.

But while the few photos I have are of show events, my memories are quite different. I remember the togetherness of riding him over a round of small jumps with no saddle and no bridle (although I don’t remember how!). And my best memories are of sitting on his back revising for my “O” levels while he grazed on the grass in our small paddock. The type of togetherness that can bind man and animal, or, in this case, boy and horse. I didn’t have a lot of friends at school and Blaze was probably my best friend that summer.

So I can easily understand how the RDA has helped Bryony, how it continues to help, and hopefully help in the future. Her 45 minutes every Saturday morning are one of the top highlights of the week as she becomes a very different person. She becomes much more confident and self-assured, almost literally discarding her other issues as she gets on her horse at mid-day on Saturday. Her horse, whether it be Mabel or Billy, senses that Bryony is in charge. The horse may be led (usually by Hazel), but Bryony is definitely the boss. Her concentration is evident to us, her family, but we see something others don’t. We see that the issues and concerns that are very visible for most of the week are simply not there once she is riding. No-one is threatening her, or making fun of her, and that is clear from her appearance and confidence on the horse. I can’t remember when we last saw her have a fit on the horse, whilst she continues to have such episodes at home when she is not on a horse. Maybe it is the girl/horse relationship, maybe it is the nurturing and care of RDA staff, or more likely it is both of these. As Bryony puts it: the RDA is a second caring family to her and that’s an amazing thing to have when one is six foot up in the air on a very strong four-legged animal!

Bryony started this blog last year and we both hope that while it helps her, it can also help its readers, and can help others discover the pleasures – and very real benefits – provided by the RDA.

The Disabled Blogger Tag

disability

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 ( TRIGGER WARNING) – 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!

WHO DO YOU TAG?

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”.

Communicating With Colours

mental health

When I am at college I sometimes find expressing my emotions to others very challenging. As I can feel threatened in this environment due to my past experiences at school with being bullied. The bullying affected me so much doctors diagnosed me with PTSD. To help me process and communicate with others I sometimes use communication aids to help me express myself in ways I feel safe and comfortable to do so.

To help me communicate with others I have done Lego Therapy with my support staff but also in small groups with other students. Lego Therapy is all about trying to identify your emotions by putting a colour to it. For example my happy colour is yellow and my safe colour is green. I use Lego because sometimes I might be feeling more than one emotion so we stack the Lego bricks onto each other.

Lego helps me because in the past whilst doing this with other students I have had to do our whole week in colour. By seeing my week visually using Lego has helped me to understand that my emotions can be mixed and that is ok. Doing this has helped me to identify why I might be feeling upset and other emotions during the week. Talking it through with colours makes me feel more relaxed in sharing how I maybe feeling to others. By dong group sessions it has helped me to understand that I am not “silly” for feeling some emotions as others can feel similar emotions to me in some situations.

By using colour I have been able to cope better with my feelings and thoughts rushing around in my head at 100 miles an hour. Sometimes when this happens I don’t know what’s going on.However if I can find a colour that best describes how I am feeling this can help to slow down my thought process into a more manageable way and it becomes less scary and less overwhelming for me.

I use this to also help me to tell others how the voices I live with are making me feel. I have coloured circles attached to my bag which I take with me all the time. Each circle is a different colour with the emotion it makes me feel on it too. So if I am out and about and feel I can’t tell someone how I am I can show them the coloured circle I am feeling. By having the circles with me makes it more discreet when out and about as I don’t need to get Lego out.

I find using this resource also really useful after I have had a seizure as I can find it very hard to communicate with others because I find it hard to speak or I am hard for others to understand.

I am now able to use this if I need to when I’m out and about with support workers, my family and friends. Using Lego has helped me a lot in understanding emotions and that it is ok to have mixed emotions!

Riding for the Disabled Association: How Horse Riding Helps My Disability

Riding for the Disabled Association

I was about 8 or 9 when I started horse riding at my local RDA Centre; I am now 20 years old. Through my time horse riding with the RDA I have found that riding isn’t just something I love to do and I look forward to it during the week. It has helped me in many different ways: one of the big ways it has helped me is with my disability.

When I was younger, horse riding was great physiotherapy for me. It was also very clever because I enjoyed it so much I didn’t see it as having to do my daily stretches and exercises my physiotherapist gave me.

Over the years horse riding has helped me build up my muscles and core strength. Horse riding has helped me to improve my balance massively. I remember when I first started riding and my instructor got us to do lots of different activities to help not only build up confidence and communication skills but to also make sure we were working our muscles safely. For example we had to do activities siting on bean bags or balancing a bean bag on our riding hat and try and make sure it didn’t fall off. This helped me to develop better posture in everyday life. At school I used to have problems writing and making sure my posture at the table was good or when I was eating a meal. I found that over time horse riding really helped me to develop better posture and now I can do tasks so much more easily. Doing this also helped me to see if I was sitting properly on the pony. If the bean bag fell off I learnt that my balance was not even and that I was sitting too far over on one side.

Horse riding has helped and continues to help me with my visual perception. I find seeing shapes challenging and this can be confusing. In my lessons I do a lot of work on riding circles evenly as I can sometimes make one side of my circle a lot bigger than the other. During my lessons I may change the rein and to do this I have to ride diagonally across the riding school so now I understand more about what a diagonal is.

Horse riding helps me with my spatial awareness and planning as I have to take into account the other horses and ponies in the school. For example I have to make sure if we are all lined up behind each other that we leave a safe distance between each of us. As well as this sometimes some of the horses and ponies in the class don’t get on very well so we may need to prepare more about who we chose to stand behind. As well as this in some of the activities we do, we may have to halt between cones or on “X” so I need to prepare my halt in advance and make sure my legs are forward and that I am sitting back into the saddle and don’t tip forward.

Lastly going horse riding at the RDA has helped me to feel less alone and not to feel ashamed of who I am because at school other kids bullied me because of my disability. When I’m at RDA I feel accepted and I can be myself.

Riding for the Disabled Association: Billy’s First Ever Dressage Competition

Riding for the Disabled Association

At the moment I am helping to train the youngest pony at the stables: he is called Billy.

In my horse riding lessons I have worked with him a lot. He has now got so much better doing work in the school with other horses and ponies being in the same arena as him. I have done quite a lot of with him to improve his circles and also making sure he is on the track and goes into the corners. With Billy I do have to work more on making sure he is listening to me as he gets easily distracted and likes to look out of the school doors and see what’s going on.

Recently Billy and I took part in a dressage competition with Dressage Anywhere.This was Billy’s first ever time competing in a dressage competition.

On the day of the dressage competition Billy was fantastic. He was very curious and did enjoy looking at himself in the mirror at times. He was also very interested in the video camera. We joke a lot and say that we think Billy quite fancies being a model. During our dressage routine Billy did amazingly: he was alert but also listening to me. He seemed to take everything in his stride. I was so proud of him especially because it was his first ever dressage competition, so I wasn’t sure how he would react to doing things in the school by himself with no other horses or ponies around with him.

Here is a small clip of different things we did for our dressage.

Billy and I came 1st in the dressage competition which was brilliant: we scored 71.39%. I am so proud of him and how far he has come in such a short space of time. He really is a pot of gold!

Riding for the Disabled Association: How Horse Riding Helped Me Through Getting Bullied

Riding for the Disabled Association

One of my very first riding lessons at RDA. Here I am riding the beautiful Anya.

one of my very first horse riding lessons at RDA riding the beautiful  Anya.

I was first bullied in primary school however when I went into secondary school the bullying got a lot worse and on a whole new level. I was getting bullied physically, verbally and online. The thing was I wasn’t just being bullied by people in my Year I was also being bullied by the kids in the older and younger years too. I felt like I just couldn’t escape from it; I was always on edge waiting for the next horrible thing to happen. I felt suicidal it felt like I was living in darkness with no light. When I would come back from school in tears their where days I would cry myself to sleep and wish I wouldn’t wake up.

However there was one place I went to in the week were I just felt so happy, safe and not scared; that special place was going to my local RDA stables for my horse riding lessons. I would look forward to my Saturday horse riding lessons like crazy and when the bad things happened I would just try to think about the amazing horses and ponies at RDA.

There were days when I didn’t want to go horse riding because I was so upset and down from what was happening at school. Sometimes I didn’t think I deserved to go horse riding as the bullies made me feel like a horrible person; who deserved the things that would happen to me daily at school.

Forrester all tacked up ready for his lesson.

In spite of everything when I got to the stables and onto one of the ponies or horses everything changed for the better; I was able to forget about all the horrible things that were happening at school for a few minutes a week. The horses and ponies really helped me to feel like I was good at something. They made me feel that I was needed as they needed to be exercised. The horses and ponies also helped me a lot as I didn’t feel judge by them in anyway, they just accepted me for me and that was amazing in fact they still do!

I remember when I used to do trotting in my lessons, when I was doing trotting I would try and use it to help me to move on from the things I was having done to me during that week at school. Before trotting I wold think about the horrible things that week and then when I got the pony or horse to trot I would try and imagine trotting those experiences away and forgetting about them. I found this a really helpful coping strategy because I would tell teachers about what was happening but nothing was done about it.

The horses and ponies, grooms, riding instructors and other volunteers are all incredible. I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be now if it wasn’t for this amazing charity;that has helped me get through one of the hardest and most painful times in my life, SO THANK YOU!