It’s Rachel – I'm here with my first Sunshine Column after coming back from Maternity leave.
Although it’s certainly been a very busy first couple of weeks, I’m really enjoying being back and getting stuck into all the things I’ve missed whilst being away.
Meeting families, talking to other community groups and charities and working alongside professionals are some of the best things about my role.
Not only that, but I also now get to work alongside our lovely Bev who is our full-time Family Coordinator!
Did you know that July is Disability Pride Month? Disability Pride month began in America, just over thirty years ago, when the Americans with Disabilities Act was enshrined in law.
The celebration has made its way over to the UK in recent years and more and more people are becoming aware of it and starting to get involved in celebrating disability in all it’s wonderful diversity.
Here at The Sunshine Fund we are dedicated to supporting disabled children and their families.
This isn’t always about the life changing equipment we fund though. One of the ways we’re trying to help is by using our voice to share our families’ experiences in our wider community.
To do this, we’ve created an educational project that’s being delivered in local schools.
The aim of the Seeds of Hope Project is to introduce the concepts of diversity, inclusion, equality and equity.
One of my very first jobs was being filmed for a workshop and a live assembly which explained all about these topics!
You may have seen some photos of our fabulous Seeds of Hope project across our social media – our lovely friends in local schools have been planting sunflowers and they’re all starting to spring up.
The sunflowers are an important metaphor for learning about celebrating differences.
All the sunflowers will bloom differently – some will have more petals, some will be shorter and they’ll all be varying shades of yellow, green and orange.
But mostly importantly; not one single sunflower is any less beautiful or not as valuable because of those differences.
One of my favourite mottos in life (apart from the classic ‘shy bairns get nowt’!) is “Know better, do better.”
So, as a non-disabled person, I try as much as possible to listen to disabled people and their experiences.
By doing this, I can learn and do better. Mistakes are always going to happen.
That’s ok, even if it feels uncomfortable. But what matters is acknowledging those mistakes, taking responsibility and aiming to do better next time.
Let’s all make the effort to listen to those who know best about what’s needed – the disabled community.
We want to encourage everyone in our local communities to think about how they can support individuals and families with disabilities.
Disability is so rich and varied and it’s important to not assume that a disability is something that is ‘wrong’ with an individual.
Scope (the disability equality charity) explains this really well: “The social model of disability is a way of viewing the world, developed by disabled people.
The model says that people are disabled by barriers in society, not by their impairment or difference. Barriers can be physical, like buildings not having accessible toilets.
Or they can be caused by people's attitudes to difference, like assuming disabled people can't do certain things. The social model helps us recognise barriers that make life harder for disabled people.
Removing these barriers creates equality and offers disabled people more independence, choice and control.
Not everyone uses the social model and that’s ok. How anyone chooses to talk about their impairment is up to them.
Some amazing and informative activists are on social media – if you; like us here at Team Sunshine, want to continue on the journey of becoming good allies for disabled folk, this is a good place to start.
For all the updates from The Chronicle Sunshine Fund
Our patron Stephen Miller, Activist and Actor Samantha Renke, Richie at Awesometistic,
Lee Ridley aka Lost Voice Guy, AccessAble UK, and Disability Awareness are all great people and accounts to follow.
A saying that is often used in Disability Activism is “nothing about us, without us” and this is our pledge that Team Sunshine is committed to becoming the best ally we can be.
If you’d like to get in touch about volunteering with us to make sure the services we are providing are truly accessible and inclusive please contact me directly.
Make sure to catch our column next week as we’ll be sharing something extremely exciting about a brand new event which is not for the fainthearted.