As some of you may know it is International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination . This inspired me to write this blog about diversity in the equestrian world.
When I tell people I enjoy going horse riding some are very surprised not just by the fact I ride and have a disability but also because of the colour of my skin. People sometimes tell me “ I didn’t realise people of your ethnicity took part in this sport”.
They get even more confused when they see me with my family. I am Indian but at 3 months old I was adopted by a English couple who lived in India. They then had a biological daughter so people get confused when I say “and this is my younger sister”. Over the years I’ve had people stare at me when I’m out with my family in public. Sometimes I forget that I’m a different ethnicity from my family to me it’s my normal!
The equestrian world is really lacking in diversity . I think a big aspect of why this is the cause is because of how low the awareness in this sport. People in the past have said and made comments that they thought this sport is not a sport for some like me which really isn’t the case.
We need more role models in the sport. We need someone who is relatable to people. If people see someone from the same background or similar they feel they can relate to that person. To help show how this sport isn’t just for one type of person we need to change perceptions.
I believe Riding for the Disabled challenges perceptions constantly because when I talk to people about the fact I ride with the RDA many people haven’t actually heard of this amazing charity. So I love telling them how special, valuable and life changing it is!
When people see someone like me. They can see that I can ride. I want to help encourage others to give this sport a try despite society’s labels and their are others like me taking part in the sport. This helps to break down the barriers this sport has.
One person breaking down these barriers now is Reece McCook, founder of online campaign Ride Out Racism.
Everyone should feel that it is possible for them to join and achieve great things in this sport. We need to inspire each other to join and participate in this sport and in our community. You never know who could be the top riders of our future let’s break down these barriers together, this sport is for everyone!
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!