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The Covid-19 Civic Award - Disabled people can!

Being awarded the Middlesbrough Council Civic Community Award for Covid-19 proves that people with disabilities can achieve amazing things.

Why does this award mean so much to me?

There was a time I would see my disability as being surrounded by a 14ft electric fence. There was nothing I could do, because my disability effected me every minute of everyday. Or so I told myself...

But then I ask,

How many electricians could also cook a bistro menu?

How many chefs are there that could teach music?

How many music teachers are able to build a house?

How many builders knit?

How many knitters kayak?

How many people can do everything well?

Success isn’t determined by what we can’t do, but rather, what we do.

Running a food bank from my own home during Covid19 was so hard, it pushed me to limits both physically and mentally. But being chosen from such a long list of amazing people who made a massive difference to our community during the pandemic fills me with pride, and hope.

I hope that one day, people with disability will be treated as equals, that people will see the potential and talent before the wheelchair or feeding tube. We’ve come along away in the last century, but people with disability are still suffering discrimination and treated less favourably in all aspects of life. From employment and volunteering, to parenting and socially.

Every single person has potential and talent but with every episode of discrimination chipping away at self confidence and self image it becomes harder to find a path to success.

As I’ve struggled through the week battling infections and treatment, I look at the award that my carer placed on my bedside table. I remind myself that I can pull through and achieve. I take joy that my son learnt compassion, that he watched me tear down those barriers to achieve, grow and show empathy for others.

I challenge every person with a disability to find their ‘can do’.

An inspirational man once said:

“My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

Stephen Hawking will always be a huge inspiration to me, a man that showed the world what could be achieved despite all of the barriers surrounding him.

There once was a time that I couldn’t even contemplate living with a disability, the dark cloud of depression filled my world and I couldn’t see my own hand in front of my face. My heart is heavy for those friends I’ve lost to the depression and grief associated with disability. But it is in their memory that I strive to succeed and live.

Choose to live your best life, to find what you can do and don’t dwell on what you can’t.

In the words of a great successful man,

‘Don’t be disabled in spirit’

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