Children are the future and I’ve been eager for ages to be able to go into schools to speak to pupils about my disability in order to spread more awareness. So, I was very excited that my friend, who is a newly graduated primary school teacher, invited me to come and speak to her school. I was involved in their Health and Wellbeing Day which involved 4 sessions: Learning to sign a song in Makaton, mindfulness yoga, a blindfold obstacle course and of course me 😊.
It was such a great day to be part of and the children were very enthusiastic to learn about accessibility, my disability, and other disabilities. The groups were mixed from primary 1 to primary 7 which meant that what I planned had be engaging for various ages. I began by speaking about my muscle weakness and inability to walk or weight bear at all. After briefly explaining my disability I showed a picture of my first ever wheelchair and my favourite wheelchair when I was able to sit on the floor (more about that another day). To keep all the children interested still I decided to show them how cool my wheelchair is because it goes up and tilts back to allow me to ‘relax’, they seemed amazed by this. I then talked about how I transfer from wheelchair to bed by showing a picture of my hoist and explained slightly how I struggle staying other places and using standard disabled toilets due to needing a hoist.
Obviously, I also had to show my YouTube introduction as well, which the children loved. One little girl even said, “you have wine in your hand”. They pick up on everything don’t they? I forgot that children were obsessed with YouTube, so they had plenty of YouTuber related questions:
- How do I film my videos?
- What type of videos do I film?
- How many subscribers do I have?
We then spoke about accessibility using examples within the school, touring the school and thinking of solutions for some problems I may face. I was really surprised when we asked at the solutions the children came up with when thinking of how I would get up a flight of stairs. They said a ramp (which I explained would be too steep), a stair lift (which I explained is good, but I can’t transfer without my hoist) and the final solution was a lift. Although I was really shocked that instead of saying a lift they referred to it as an elevator, are we becoming more American?
After talking about all things accessibility, we discussed other disabilities and then it was question time. This was the part of each session that I was nervous about as children ask the most random things. I got told I didn’t have to ask any questions I didn’t feel comfortable with however I always like to be as honest with children as possible. I’m an open book and I feel by answering any questions the children have it opens their minds to the disability world. Here are a list of questions I got asked:
- How do you get dressed?
- How do you shower?
- What is your disability?
- Have you had your disability since you were born?
- How many wheelchairs have you had?
- How did you get your wheelchair?
- Do you have any friends with the same disability as you?
- Where did you get the wheels on your wheelchair?
- You have wine in your hand in your logo?
- If you had one positive message to tell others with a disability, what would it be?
- Have you driven your wheelchair since you were born?
Taking part in this schools Health and Wellbeing Day was a great experience apparently, I was the childrens favourite session of the day. It was fantastic to see the acceptance that the children had, and the best part of the day was racing everyone in the playground. Any excuse to drive as fast as I can. I really hope that I get more opportunities to visit other schools and carry on spreading disability awareness to the future generations.