Trying to change perceptions – My fixers project.

disability awareness fix

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Everybody who knows me will tell you how passionate and determined I am about changing people’s perceptions of disability, that is a huge part of the reason I started this blog, I’ve come across so many people who seem to have such a preconceived idea of what a person with a disability is like or how they live there lives. So with that being said  I’m always trying to think of new ways to challenge how people treat and act around someone with a disability,  in July 2015 I was just looking around online when I stumbled across the Fixers UK website. If you haven’t heard of Fixers they’re an organisation that helps young people age 16 – 25  campaign around an issue they’re passionate about using a number of different ways e.g short film, poster, campaign or an event/workshop. After looking through the website and seeing some of the campaigns other young people had made, I decided to give it a go and sent an email expressing my interest in becoming a Fixer. You can find out more about Fixers and also view my Fixers profile here.

I’ve contacted numerous charities/organisations and heard nothing back so I was pleasantly surprised when I received an email from Fixers saying they would like to arrange an initial meet up with one of their team to discuss my ideas. On August 7th 2015 I had my first initial meeting with a Fixers Co ordinator (Mariam) which was great, I spent about an hour speaking to Mariam about my life with a disability, the times I’ve faced discrimination  and why I wanted to make a change.  It was lovely to speak to someone who truly listened and really wanted to help me make positive changes, I remember going home after that meeting and feeling happier and more determined to make positive changes than ever! Me and Mariam  emailed back and forth about my ideas until my project was assigned to a producer who could help me develop my ideas into a resource.

On 2nd October 2015 the day had finally arrived for me to meet again with Mariam and also a Fixers producer (Abi) to discuss  all my ideas and get the ball rolling on producing a resource. The meeting was amazing yet again I’d never met Abi before so I spent time with her discussing my disability and why making a change was so important, we then chatted about what kind of resource I wanted to make. After reading through and discussing my blog we decided that making my blog post ‘The do’s and don’t of disability’ into a short film would be a great way of getting my point out there and hopefully help non disabled people end any awkwardness they might have around someone with a disability. Anybody who has ever met with me will tell you that I use humour quite a lot in my approach to my disability so I decided that using humour in my film was best suited to my personalty and everybody loves a bit of humour right? Abi wrote down all my ramblings/ideas to take away with her and put together into some sort of script for my film.

After about 2/3 weeks I received the script for the film from Abi and absolutely loved it! It was everything I’d wanted it pointed out some of the experience using humour but while still getting an important message across. I emailed Abi/Mariam telling them how happy I was with the script and we arranged a day for filming. I was beyond excited at everything that was happening, I never would of thought a few years ago that I would ever be happy and confident enough in my own skin to be making a short film.

On 6th November the day had finally arrived for us to film and to say I was excited would be an absolute understatement! We were due to film a few scenes outside around Liverpool city centre but English weather meant that we had to film inside at Liverpool University. I was so nervous about being in front of the camera at first but after a few minutes my nerves went and I just couldn’t wait to film more scenes. I won’t say to much about the scenes as you can see the film for yourself below, filming was everything I’d wished it with be it was such a lovely day filled with laughter, jokes and amazing people!

I hope you all enjoyed the film and if you did can you please share it so we can get it out there! It’s so crazy for me to think back and look at how much things have changed for me, I feel so blessed to have experienced the things that I have within 2015. I want to take this chance to thank every single person who has helped me during this experience, you’ve all helped me so much and this amazing opportunity for me to get my voice heard would not of been possible without any of you! ❤

 

 

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Why if everyone saw disability like children do the world would be a better place

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Life truly is a lesson and we can learn so much from it regardless of who we are, I’ve always thought that in some ways my disability has taught me so many great lessons that I feel I might not of learn’t had it not been for my disability. I feel that my disability has helped separate out the good, the bad and the ugly throughout my life and for that I’m thankful.

As a lot of you will know I’ve grown up attending specialist education all of my life this teamed with a family that never made a big deal of things meant that disability and difference has never been an issue to me, it was just the norm. In fact my disability has never caused me too much of a problem it has always been the people in the world around me and how they perceived it that made it into a problem, anyone out there who has a disability or illness will know that there is only so much of the rude stares and snide comments you can take before it starts to hurt you and dent your confidence.

It’s not so much the fact that people stare though I mean I’m as nosey as the next person and if I see something that catches my attention I can’t help but have a quick glance, if you’re a child who hasn’t experienced a wheelchair/disability before then of course you’re going to be curious, it’s just natural. It’s adults staring and making it blatantly obvious that really starts to bug me, I mean you are an adult you should know so much better than to be ignorant!

So although you’d be forgiven for thinking that children would make more of a big deal out of disability because it’s something they may not of experienced before, it is actually adults who seem to be judgemental and if the world was full of children then I believe it would honestly be a better place!

As a child I went out in the street and played with other children getting involved in every game they played without anyone bating an eyelid, to the other children I was just ‘Chelle’ my disabilities or abilities were never an issue, Why? because children just see another child and not another child with a disability. Children don’t judge or over think they just seem to accept and one of the things I love most about children is that if they don’t understand they will question, something I wish more adults would do. I would have so much more respect for anyone who was just upfront and if they had a question about my disability then I would be 100% be happy to answer them and move on, instead of snide comments or funny looks.

I love how children don’t see disability or any other subject as embarrassing or a big taboo, one of my favourite examples of this is when I was working in a local primary school with year 4 children. A child came up to me and out of the blue just said “Miss, what’s wrong with your leg?”  which I found lovely and began to answer him when his teacher came along and told him off for apparently being rude. In my opinion this said a lot more about the teacher than about the child himself, I was always told that if I don’t know or understand something then I should ask and that is exactly how I believe it should be. In my opinion shouting at a child for being curious and open gives them the impression that what they’re questioning is wrong, which just isn’t true children should be encouraged to explore and understand diversity just like they would with any other subject.

So if everybody saw disability and diversity in the same light as children do then I whole heartedly believe that the world would be a lot more open, honest and happier world too live in!

Making huge steps forward in the fashion industry!

diversity is beautiful

From reading previous posts I’m guessing that you will know by now how important it is too me and how passionate I am about seeing more disabled people within the media e.g in films, music or the fashion industry, I believe that if disability was displayed more in the media then there would be less discrimination which in turn means people would become a lot more accepting and open minded.

As the years go on things really are improving but they’re no where near perfect so you can imagine my happiness earlier this week when I stumbled across a news article about the beautiful and talented Jamie Brewer, for those who don’t know Jamie is a British actress/model who is best known for her role in American Horror  Story as well as this Jamie is also an activist, writer and artist but Jamie proved once again this week that having a disability should never stop you from following your dreams by being the first women with down syndrome to rock the catwalk at Fashion week in New York.

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Jamie along with other disabled models showed the world that disability isn’t a barrier and became part of  history by being part of  designer Carrie Hammers ‘Role models not runway models show’ this show was about a lot more than looks and just fashion though, it had a brilliant concept behind it of showcasing beautiful, inspiring, strong and passionate models who had a range of different abilities. So this show was an absolute perfect fit for Jamie who just goes to show everyone out there that no matter what disability you’ve got you’re fabulous and can achieve so many great things.

jamie brewer

Something you guys may not know about me is that my dream is be a model and it has been since I can remember. Sadly I’ve never really had the confidence or belief in myself to take it any further than just a dream, so too see other women out there like Jamie Brewer or Chelsey Jay Reyonlds (Both beautiful disabled women) going out there strutting their stuff on a huge catwalk or posing beautifully in front of the camera, not only fills me with pride but also pushes and motivates me to see my beauty and never let my imperfections stop me.

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FTL Moda - Runway - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Fall 2015

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All these models shown above are stunning regardless of what disability they have  but when is the last time you saw any of them on a billboard or in your local high street shops? Sadly I’m guessing the answer is never! So although things are definitely moving in the right direction, more still needs to be done to help get disabled models out there into the mainstream media.

I’d love to hear what you guys think is there enough diversity in the fashion industry? Why do you think disabled models aren’t used within the media as widely as there able bodied peers?

Yay or nay to shows like the undatbles?

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I’m a sucker for a debate and this week I found a news article on line that I thought would be brilliant to get peoples opinions flowing. As a disabled person myself I absolutely love seeing programmes that help raise awareness of disabilities in a positive way, so when I found this article on the pros/cons of shows about disabled people e.g the undatables, don’t drop the baby or beauty and the beast, I knew I had to write a post about it.

As with any show there will always be some controversy so you’ll have your lovers and your haters. I’ve got a huge amount of friends who can’t stand these shows for the simple reason that they feel these shows not only belittle disabled people but they also don’t like the backlash of negative attention these shows bring for disabled people. I can completely understand their opinions but I love these programmes and have from day one but like every show on tv these shows have both there positives and negatives.  I love that they all show that having a disabilities doesn’t stop you living a ‘normal’ life, it has it’s ups and downs but you can live as happy and fulfilled life as anyone.

One thing I do hate, hate, hate about these shows is the incredibly small minded and insentive names the big bosses at the bbc/channel 4 insist on calling them, I mean what an earth would make them want to call a programme about disabled people dating ‘The undatables’ How is that allowed??  as a disabled women myself I’m definatly not undatable I’m a bloody good catch! 😉 and too me calling it ‘the undatables’ suggests to other people that they should in some way pity disabled people looking for love, another one was the show ‘beauty and the beast’ a few years back which saw two different people, one with a facial disfigurement and someone who was obsessed with looking good and you got to watch as the pair spent time in the others life. As much as I loved the concept this programme was trying to promote I stopped watching after a couple because I found that the name of the programme in some way made fun of people with facial disfigurements and made them sound less attractive than there ever so beautiful peers.

I have friends who a couple of years ago took part in a programme with a name that they were less than happy with as it was about them being disabled parents and they felt that the programmes name gave the opinion that as parents they weren’t very careful, which of course isn’t true. Disability or not they’re some of the best parents I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and there two boys are some of the happiest and most content kids you’ll ever know.

I understand that the big chefs have to get ratings and by giving these programmes risky names they’re drawing attention to the show so therefore it will get views which of course is great for them and to be fair to them I don’t actually believe that they set out to hurt or offend anyone with these titles but if they just put a little more sensitivity and thought into the names then I truly believe that these type of programmes would not only flourish year after year but they would also help in a great way to raise awareness of how diverse and amazing our world can be.

So now that you’ve heard my rants I’d love to know what you guys think?