“She’ll run you over”

There are a lot of allegedly jokey comments that people make about or to me as a wheelchair user.  Usually well meaning and perhaps an attempt at being funny. They aren’t funny.  Most of them never were but one or two may have been if not for the fact that I hear them all the time. 

I’m talking about the “women drivers” comments.

The people who say “do you have a license for that thing?”

Those who randomly see me and go “no speeding!”

And many others.

I often roll my eyes at that sort of thing and let it go because it’s usually strangers and theres no point getting annoyed about that.  When one of the assisted travel guys at London Waterloo put the ramp down and after I drove down it went “who says women can’t drive?!” I asked him if there was meant to be a compliment buried in there somewhere. And he didn’t really answer.  But he was there to get me off the train the next time I went and just said hello.

The comment that really gets me though is made when parents on the street are trying to get their child out of my way. I heard it earlier today and yes the child was taking up space but it wasn’t a huge issue.

It’s “she’ll run you over if you don’t move.”

A lot of kids don’t know what a wheelchair is and don’t know what to make of them. I don’t like the nosy inappropriate questions I get from adults and older kids but if I have the time I was always answer young ones because it’s genuine curiousity and normalising disability (and in my case specifically wheelchairs) is important.
Even if you tell me to or give me permission to I’m not going to run your child over (and I have heard “I’ll let her…” and “I’ll tell her to…”before). Comments like that make my disability and my chair something to be wary of. I’m sick of being made out to be the big bad wolf to be scared of. 

I am not a threat to get your child to do what you want. Stop using me as one. I’m a person the same as everyone else – I just spend my life on wheels.

Hate isn’t Funny Part Three

It’s not really appropriate to call this post Hate Isn’t Funny part three because I don’t think it was really about hate just about clueless people not thinking things through properly.  But the two posts I wrote on the same subject in February were about hate and I called them Hate isn’t Funny so it feels right to use that title for this and continue the series even if it probably isn’t the best title for this particular anecdote. /end nonsensical ramble about blog titles.

Back in February I went to see Omid Djalili and his show was quite ableist and frankly in a couple of places full of hate.  I wrote about that in Hate isn’t Funny and then had some discussion with him via twitter which I wrote about in Hate isn’t Funny part two. That saga didn’t have the ending I wanted it to have but it had the best ending it was probably possible for it to have if that makes sense.

I’ve been to a couple of musicals since then and one comedy show which was funny and generally not noteworthy at all in terms of disability.

On Sunday my friend Angela and I went to see Showstopper – the improvised musical.  Generally I liked it.  For me personally it could have been better simply because they asked the audience to list several musicals which would influence the show.  The ones chosen by the audience were all older ones – none of which I’d seen and only one or two I’d heard of.  So several of the references went over my head which was a shame.  Angela said to me afterwards that one of the musicals she thought the cast didn’t know either. But the singing was good and I liked the improvised plot they came up with and how it ended up.

Every so often they would stop and ask how they should show they’d been influenced by  a particular musical and for one of the musicals (Tommy) someone shouted out a character should be blind.  So for the rest of the show one of the characters was pretending to be blind and frankly overkilling it and coming across and pretty damn ableist.  Amongst other things frequently nearly walking into the audience or props or whatever and having to be grabbed.  For about the first couple of minutes it was OK and then it got to be inappropriate and ridiculous.

Then it was the interval and they asked that people tweet them with suggestions of how the show should continue.  I tweeted:

 

This is somewhat made worse by the fact that a lady I didn’t know followed me and Angela into the lift to go down to the bar and heard me comment about the inappropriateness of the blind bit. She commented that she has a visual impairment and felt like she was being mocked. It’s not my disability so I didn’t feel I was being mocked personally but I thought it was a good description for what it seemed they were doing. We talked to her for a bit and did general interval stuff.

And then we went back in the show and they read various tweets out and continued on and it was mostly good but they really needed to kill the cripping up going on it the blind bit and kill it dead.

As we left and wandered out Angela’s route to her car and my route to my flat both taking us the same way for a couple of minutes I shared with her that I should probably blog about the incident and do something about it (more of a complaint) but I really couldn’t be bothered to. Because it felt like once again something I could fight and wouldn’t get anywhere and I’d waste energy on something unnecessary. Better to just decide that I didn’t want to see them again if they were going to be ableist was my thinking.

Then Monday afternoon I went on twitter and found this tweet in my mentions:

I tweeted them back to say thank you and I appreciated it. I included my email and a day or two later (I forget which day) I got an email from one of their team admitting that when they looked back at the show could see they got it wrong. They’re going to work on it in rehearsal I understand. I thanked them and made various comments including that it would have helped to just stopped the whole blind bit after a few minutes if they couldn’t include it in a more appropriate way.

This was never as bad as the situation I blogged about with Omid Djalili, it was always about someone working in a high pressure situation and getting it wrong and hurting people. And I’m more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I wouldn’t go and see The Showstoppers again anytime soon but I’ve taken them off my list of inappropriate shows and my list of shows I don’t want to see again – if they were back here in a year or two I might well go back.

There have been many times I’ve flagged up ableism in various circumstances and not got a good response or been fobbed off by token gestures after long complaints and huge effort. I’m really glad to see one small thing – one tweet – have a positive outcome. And even more glad to hear someone admit that yeah actually they did get it wrong.

But it also pisses me off.

Because why can’t more people do that?

In which I get Ranty

(subtitle: and lose my shit all over the Internet.)

This is ridiculous. In fact It’s the most stupid thing ever and frankly I probably shouldn’t dignify it with a response but I can’t let it go.

There’s an American company called 3eLove. They sell a range of products with their logo on – the logo is a wheelchair symbol like you see on many different things but with the wheel replaced with a heart. It’s called the wheelchair heart.  I can’t remember if I’ve blogged about it before or not. Their products have a variety of slogans on as well as the wheelchair heart.  In 2012 my parents gave me a sum of money instead of a Christmas present asking I buy myself something special that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself.  I bought myself a wheelchair heart necklace and I really like it (prior to shit that went down yesterday I probably would have said I love it but…). If you look at the pictures of my brother’s wedding you can see I’m wearing it there (I’m not sure how clear it is though). A lot of my friends have quite a few 3elove products but the necklace is the only one I have. I’ve not seen anything else they do that really called to me like that did and made me feel paying postage from the US to here was worth it (seriously, yesterday a friend linked me to one of their tops and told me how much she was paying to get it shipped here and all I could think was “I could buy a second top for the cost of postage if I bought it from a UK place” But obviously that’s not the company’s fault).

So anyway I kept hearing that yesterday (20/01/2014) was going to be Day of Acceptance run by 3elove.  And this apparently was a Big Deal.

I’m not a fan of “awareness raising” and the like and days that do that because I’m not really sure that they achieve anything that can’t be achieved by just being seen and doing and living.  I’ve written about that several times before – here is one example and there is a link to more in that entry. So I was hearing a lot about it and I sent a couple of tweets.

I tweeted:

#dayofacceptance is really poor activism and a thinly veiled way for @3elove to market themselves. Don't Other me this way #Disability

— Emma (@FunkyFairy22) January 20, 2014

and then I sent some unrelated RTs and chatted a bit with a twitter friend about stuff including what I’d just tweeted.

Then I tweeted

I don't want or need a #dayofacceptance. I deserve seven. Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. And Sunday. (@3elove)

— Emma (@FunkyFairy22) January 20, 2014

Here’s the thing: I don’t want one day a year where people go out of their way to accept me and my disability and make a big deal of it. I want to be accepted every single damn day there is and I want it to be normal. You know I don’t want people bothering to tell me that my having CP is acceptable to them.  By making a big deal of it it makes me different to those in the majority and Others me. (Othering is the process by which we use an action of similar to class particular people as different and “not one of us” see this link for more detail).

I suspect a big part of this comes from medical model versus social model and cultural differences. But lets just say that those two tweets which were just random thoughts didn’t go down very well.

By my last count I’ve had tweets disagreeing with me and telling me I’m wrong from four different people.  Two of whom decided to troll me and keep telling me I was wrong. The reason I was wrong? Well, basically because I didn’t agree with them and that was just wrong. I was missing the point. I was wrong. I’ve not been able to determine what the point I was missing was because explanations haven’t been forthcoming let alone ones that actually make sense. (I RT’d a few of them and several of my followers went “yeah… makes no sense.”). Never mind I was wrong, I was hurting my followers by being wrong, and bringing loads of people down.  And most importantly I was completely wrong.

I am more than happy to have these sort of discussions if people take the time to say “well to me I see this as XYZ why do you see it differently?”

It’s also been suggested by the trolls that I need to accept myself.  I don’t know how I can do that when I’ve been in a wheelchair my entire life, would hate to be anything but and would turn down a cure if one should magically appear. My wheelchair is a huge part of my identity as well as being a part of my body.

Acceptance. Dude, it’s a journey not a destination but I’m pretty much all ready there and have been my entire life. Just because I don’t like your day doesn’t mean I hate myself.

I am surrounded by people who love me, help me, support me, tell me off if I need it, wind me up, tease me, laugh with me, cry with me, knit with me, sail with me, and do all sorts of things for me and with me.  They accept me too.  I thank them often for what they do for me and I appreciate it and they thank and appreciate me when I do stuff for them.

But I don’t thank them for accepting me. Because I shouldn’t have to. I am a part of their lives and they are a part of my life because it’s what we want.

If people I have to deal with in a professional capacity (either theirs or mine through my unpaid voluntary work) have a problem with my disability then I would hope our interactions would drip into their brains and slowly bring change and I would focus on that. If people I don’t have to deal with have a similar problem I would still hope the same thing but frankly I’d give them a chance then cut them out of my life. I’ve not got time to change lives, I’ve got a life to live.

Yes I know attitude to disabilty aren’t what they could be.  But in my life time alone  I’ve seen huge changes for the better (and maybe one or two for the worse). That’s continuing.  It’s just more effective if we live our lives and celebrate who we are and our contributions. One day isn’t going to change it.  In fact I worry it’ll make people think “well they wanted me to do it on 20th Jan and I did so they can’t expect me to do it everyday.”

People might remember the old TV ads that used to be on in December time “A dog’s for life, not just for Christmas.”  Well, my disability is for life not just one day and I’d prefer people remember that.

(I’d also prefer people to remember that a post of twitter is just a tweet. It’s not an attack on their views, just a differing opinion and there is absolutely no need for shit like the trolling I had yesterday. But I think that’s probably wishful thinking.)

(first time comment moderation is enabled on my blog – if you haven’t commented before your comment will be held. This is standard to prevent spam).

Remembrance

At the 11th minute
Of the 11th hour
Of the 11th day
Of the 11th month

We will remember them.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

20131111-105304.jpg

(This is a photo of a field of poppies)

I found this picture via English With A Twist a blog I’d never seen before. That link takes you to a very good and informative Remembrance Day post.

Just for Today

Dearest blog readers I need to tell you something very important.

You see, there’s this thing called Cerebral Palsy (some people call it CP for short). It’s a disability. I have it. So do thousands of other people all over the world, probably even millions. I don’t suffer from it. I have it. That’s important. It’s not a terrible thing. There isn’t a cure and it’s life long but it is what it is. And what it is is difficult at times but generally ok.

And what I need to tell you, my dear blog readers, is that I need you to be aware of the fact that CP exists and I have it. But just for today. You by some bizarre reason didn’t know that I’ve got CP and what that is yesterday, I’m confused but that’s ok. You wake u tomorrow and you’re like “Emma told me something important yesterday but I just can’t remember what that is…” Ok. Just so long as you’re aware of CP today. This is, apparently, very important.

Because today is World CP Awareness Day. So if you could change your Facebook profile picture, or wear green* or even stop and think about CP every few minutes this will apparently make a huge difference to the millions of people like me.

Or you know just ignore the hype and get on with living life.

Because CP isn’t just one day, it’s everyday and I’m not sure there’s any point to days like this. I don’t really know what they achieve (apart from giving me a chance to write sarcastic blog entries like this) nor am I sure there’s anything I want them to achieve with it. I wrote more about this in March this year.

Work for disability awareness (which as I’ve said before I tend to think is more relevant that awareness for individual disabilities) because you want to. Not because a bunch of disability organisations got together to declare that today is the day.

Or you know just ignore the hype and get on with living life.

Yes, I know I said that already but it’s true. I think we make more of a lasting impact by being out there and living our lives than we do by big stunts. My friend Angela often tells me that I educate without meaning to every time I write. Plus, I’d be doing that anyway so it’s low effort awareness. My sort of activism 🙂

I’m really glad we had this conversation you read my rant dearest blog readers.

Lots of love,
Emma xxxxxx

Making a Difference

I was rereading some old blog entries earlier. I was planning to write something (not this post) and I thought maybe I’d written about it last year. I didn’t find anything but what I did come across was this post. I thought it was kind of apt given a piece of news I received today.

After three and a half months I finally received my new wheelchair cushion. It’s strange. It’s good and it’s comfy. But it almost feels off. This is set up differently to my old one and I’m not sure if that’s why (I have the stuff to change the set up to my old one if necessary), if its because it needs to learn how I sit or if it’s just because I spent the last two months with makeshift temporary cushions.

In the box with the cushion was a 20 page instruction booklet in 8 different languages. And an envelope with my name on it marked “private and confidential”

It was a letter. One with information about my cushion.

And then acknowledging the complaint I made to PALS about my five hour round trip to wheelchair services when they didn’t have my cushion in yet. They’re sorry but hope I did find some use in the appt (uh… Not so much).

Finally it said they’ve had a meeting with their administration team and put a system in place. One that will make sure what happened to me won’t happen again. I’m pleased. In fact I’m really pleased. If the system works and I truly have made a difference for other patients that’s huge.

But as I wrote in the entry I linked above for once I’d like not to be the one who is first and discovers a problem or the one who has it last and finds the solution. I’d like to be the one who came next.

Still, there’s always next time. Or the time after that. Failing that there’s also the time after that. Because god only knows the disability related fuck ups aren’t going to stop happening.

Maybe just once I’ll be the lucky one.

Someday.

In which I ramble and am grouchy when it comes to “awareness”

(I was going to title this “why I’m not blogging about CP awareness day” and then I realised that by writing this I pretty much was blogging about CP awareness day just not in the way most people are and that would be a pointless title)

So. Word on the street the internet is that 25th March is CP awareness day. i.e. that tomorrow is CP awareness day.

Except,  to me, it’s not, really.  It’s national CP awareness day in the US.  I’m not in the US and I sometimes feel like the entirety of the fucking internet resolves around people from the US  and that those of us not in it get forgotten about (do you know how many book competitions etc I can’t enter because they’re US only?! Too many).

I just deleted everything I’d written after this point.  I’d somehow managed to hit 443 words without even beginning to cover the point i wanted to make with this entry. Clearly I suck as a concise writer. Particularly when I can actually sum my point up in one TL;DR sentence. Which is:

I don’t really see that there is any need or point in awareness days in general and particularly for CP.

I don’t know what they do.  I find that a lot of people assume I have MS but when I tell them it’s CP pretty much everyone has heard of it. (I did have one rather amusing conversation last year with someone who had CP and CF (cystic fibrosis) confused but…).  I’m not sure why I might need more people to know about CP.

It’s not like there’s some Sheldon style mad scientist in a lab somewhere who has never heard of CP and is sitting there going “hmm I’ve found a cure to some random neurological disorder affecting people from birth and mostly causing mobility difficulties and spasticity but I just don’t know what disorder it is. If only someone could make me aware of it’s existence I could change the world for the 1 in 200 babies born every day with it. What a dilemma.  If only… if only…”

I don’t need a cure.  I’m pretty much perfect just the way I am.  I’m the person I’m meant to be right now.  Plus, given that I’ve spent 31 years using my body in a way it wasn’t designed to be used I’ve got some unusual wear and tear going on (hip issues for one) that curing my CP could halt or possibly improve but wouldn’t get rid of. Also? CP is brain damage. Ain’t no one touching my brain.

And most importantly I can’t help the part of me that reads or hears things about the desperate need for a cure for CP and thinks “there are plenty of other conditions out there that need curing more.  Ones that kill people.” Focus on those.

I class disability awareness and CP awareness as different things.  I believe disability awareness is important.  It’s through the disability rights movement that the community as a whole can improve access and achieve things.  Focusing on little things for one condition or another can’t do as much much as focusing on the majority.  Which is why days like the International Day of Disabled People are much more relevant and important to me (the fact that the entry I wrote for it last year remains one of my most powerful in my opinion is nothing to do with that, honest)

I truly believe that the best way I can help myself and others with disabilities – be it those with CP in specific or disability in general – is just to live my life and get on with things. If people see me doing and being I think I achieve more than if I do some specific stunt to raise awareness of CP.  Because to me CP isn’t just one day – it’s everyday.  And I’m much too busy to do anything more than live my life.

Tell A Feminist Thank You and Disability Mentors

Since this afternoon I keep seeing tweets pop up with #tellafeministthankyou (hashtag “tell a feminist thank you” for those who find those hard to read).

I got to thinking.  It would be good to have a similar thing for people who campaign on disability issues.  But what would you call it?

Feminism is generally considered to be a good thing and to have made amazing strides forward in rights for women both in this country and others.  The suffragette movement and the fact women in the UK can vote being just one example.  It’s the one that comes to mind because I just read The Children’s Book by AS Byatt and the votes for women movement plays a role in the book.

And I suspect that a lot of what has happened to improved disability rights and everything around it has a basis in the feminist movement.  Once you can get someone to change their mind on something it’s often easier to get them to begin to shift slightly on a different but related issue such as disability rights in my opinion.  The two issues are very different but they compliment each other and one can lay the groundwork for the other.  Although, obviously there are also times when to link the two issues together would be inappropriate just as there would be with any other “ism”

But going to the hashtag you could never have “tell an ableist thank you” (or disableist depending on your term of preference, mine I think is moving more towards ableism at the moment) because ableism is a bad thing and rightly so.

There are so many people who have been my disability mentors along this journey.  Not all of them have disabilities themselves but most of them do.   And one or two that most of what I took away from them was how not to be. Some I have thanked.  Many I have not and some I doubt I’ll ever get the chance too.

I considered sharing names and linking to blogs of some of the awesome people who’ve been that for me at different stages at my life.  But the fact of the matter is I could never list them all and I’d hate to miss someone off.

Most of them are people I either met through the internet or who I only know online.  I grew up knowing many others with CP and a few with other disabilities we wheeled or walked our path growing up disabled together but I’m not sure mentor is the term I’d use for those people.  Possibly because for me the path to true acceptance and being happy in my own skin didn’t come until I was 17 or so.

If you’ve played a role – any role – in mentoring me or in the fight over the years for the equal treatment and rights that I and others deserve as both a disabled person and as a women then Thank You.

That’s something I don’t think we say enough.

Disability Blog Carnival – January

Welcome to the first edition of the new version of the Disability Blog Carnival.  It’s great to hear from so many people who are glad to see it continuing.  I’ve only had two submissions but I’ve also spotted a few interesting posts so I’m including those too.

First we have this post from The Goldfish – The Sessions: Discussing Disability and Sex Work.  The Sessions is a film based on an essay by a disabled man discussing his use of a sexual surrogate.  I’ve not seen it as it’s not been on locally to me but I’d like too.  The Goldfish manages to discuss the issue from many angles and raises several good points.  As always I come away from her longer posts with plenty to think about and feeling like I need to go back to it when I’ve had my thinking time and reread it.  There are no spoilers for the film in her post but she does link to the original essay which obviously, could be spoilerish.

As I think I wrote when I posted the call for submissions one of the things I like about the carnival is finding new blogs.  Yasmin’s blog is called Damn The Muse and is a new one to me.  She submitted her post Attempting to remain disABLED about her scooter breaking and trying to fix it herself when the system is causing problems and delays in doing so.

Now we come to a few posts that I’ve spotted on my travels around the net:

In Brightest Day: Ableism in Harry Potter contains some of my favourite things.  Harry Potter and a discussion on disability issues, specifically the ableism (referred to by some as disablism) faced by Remus Lupin and Gilderoy Lockhart.  I knew that there were several disabled characters in Harry Potter but Lockhart hadn’t occurred to me.

Awareness can be a bit of a touchy subject.  I have done disability awareness talks in the past.  But what I always try to do with those is show that being disabled doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  It’s got it’s negatives and it’s challenges but that’s just life for everyone be they disabled or not.  Facebook seems to forever be full of posts encouraging me to post this or sign that or share this status to raise awareness of CP or childhood cancer or special education (every week seems to be special education awareness week to judge by facebook).  And a lot of the time I read those things and I scroll past thinking “why do I need people to be aware of my CP? What difference will it make to me.”  I’d much rather be known as Emma and show all the interesting things about me than be known as the girl with CP who only talks about disability stuff.  Besides, what would you rather read on my page, the fact I need you all to be aware of CP and the fact it’s my disability or the fact I had chocolate digestives for breakfast (I didn’t today but that was my status a couple of weeks ago) and finally got to leave the house on Friday after being snowed in for a week?

It can be a little bit controversial to share that I don’t often get the point of awareness raising posts so to be honest I’ve been keeping my mouth shut and my fingers away from the keyboard.  But that’s why this post from Grace Quantock (another new to me blog) Why I don’t support awareness raising had me nodding along and saying “yes” as I read it.

I spent a lot of yesterday giggling at the “normal awareness” posts on facebook which were started by Disability and Representation and seriously cracked me up.  A tongue in cheek look at the inspiration porn disability photos that frequently show up online.  Although I strongly suspect based on comments I saw that a few nondisabled people didn’t get it!  Tonight I discovered their blog and How to talk to normal people: a guide for the rest of us has totally made my day.  I love it.

And something I don’t love so much but which has been entertaining me tonight is the Heard Whilst Disabled hashtag on twitter.

The next carnival will be on 28th February.  Submissions can be left in the comments here, tweeted to me @FunkyFairy22 or emailed to ejcrees@googlemail.com.

 

Inspiration Porn

Tonight is the yearly Children in Need appeal here in the UK. BBC One is taken over by a telethon for about seven hours. The idea is to raise money to help disadvantaged children. So you see video clips of children from other countries walking miles for water, young carers helping their mum or dad and disabled children doing things too. And it’s a given that those children will either look sad or have their story told using emotive language such as “suffers from…” Or “whilst other children are playing little Johnny must…”

Interspersed with those clips are famous people doing silly stuff, frequent updates on how much has been raised and brief mentions of members of the public doing sponsored silences. Locally a lot of schools have had PJ days to raise money. Those can sometimes be funny and a child I was a big fan of Children in Need.

Now? I hate it.

This is what’s known in disability circles as “inspiration porn”

Inspiration porn is something which is designed to highlight the differences disability brings and invoke pity. In some cases this pity is to raise money for charity, in others it’s to encourage people and sometimes it’s designed to make them think. It’s a bit like the ultimate embodiment of the phrase “there’s always someone worse off than you”. I am disabled and therefore, automatically, my life is terrible, I am an object of pity and you have it much better than I do.

The phrase that will be heard a lot on telethons is “can you donate to make a difference to a child like little Johnny” invariably after they’ve just told you how terrible his life is. The inference being that if you can’t you obviously don’t care about him.

It’s the picture doing the rounds on Facebook with the “the only disability in life is a bad attitude.” Attitude is huge. But I can’t put on my Bolshie face, wheel up to the local shop that doesn’t have wheelchair access and stare the step down until it magically turns into a ramp and lets me in. And as much as I do my damnedest not to let my CP stop me that doesn’t make me amazing and I’m sure as hell not inspirational. The idea behind that I believe is that it makes nondisabled people think “if she can do that with all she goes through why am I moaning?” And such like.

Or it’s the advert at the train station which shows a little boy in a wheelchair with the phrase “he wishes he could leave this behind too.” And the details of how to donate to one of the disability charities. Because clearly he’s trapped by his chair. The idea as with all of these is to make you pity him. Only when I saw that poster I was sat in my wheelchair. On the train as it pulled out of the station. Fail.

Disability does make me different to other people. Wearing glasses makes to me different to other disabled people. The fact I like to dye my hair, live alone and am a big NCIS fan makes me different again from other glasses wearing disabled people. It’s a fact of life and a characteristic of me as any other for anyone else in the world.

I knew, growing up, that at least one of the organisations I was involved with had received money from Children in Need (although I don’t think it was ever featured). But I never realised that I was one of those kids. One of the ones who were shown “leaving the confines of their wheelchair behind for an hour once a week whilst they ride a horse.”

I’m glad I didn’t realise. It took me a long time to become the vaguely confident outgoing person I am now. It would have taken longer if I’d grown up with the knowledge that my life meant I was an object of pity who needed charity lives a terrible life and who is held up to others as a reason why they’re lucky. Because obviously the fact I survived being deprived of oxygen at birth at a time when the medical world wasn’t as developed as it is now means I’m terribly unlucky.

More than your charity I want your support. And for me that comes from being treated with respect. From people recognising who I am and my individuality, not making assumptions and letting me be me. That’s going to make more of a difference to more of those “children in need” then all the money donated in it’s entire 30+ year history.

If you want to help people donate direct to organisations and bypass those events that thrive on making people feel bad.

See the girl, see the truth, see the life. Accept me and those like me. I’m here living me life. Like you I’ve only got one shot at it and I don’t have a choice but to do what I do. I’m here to enjoy myself, not to inspire you or be pitied. Open your eyes and say no to inspiration porn.