It’s National Storytelling week, so we’re highlighting some of the stories young disabled people have been telling us about their lives.
We recently invited a group of young disabled people to take part in a storytelling workshop, to encourage them to talk about what’s happening in their lives and why things are important to them.
“Telling your story can be a great way to connect with other people and bring to life issues that affect you,” said Information Development Officer, Charles Clement. “It can let people know what you’re feeling, and that’s very important for some young disabled people, who may struggle to get themselves heard.”
The workshop, which was led by Advocreate, looked at what makes a good story, and why people should listen. It focused on the impact a personal story can have, and what captures people’s interest.
“If you want to get a wheelchair ramp installed at your local cafe, for example, you can either just ask for a ramp or you can tell the cafe a bit about yourself and why you need one,” Charles explained. “Telling your story is a far more powerful way of getting your point across.”
The young people taking part in the workshop had a range of impairments. Some were wheelchair users, others had autism and some had no speech, so the workshop explored different ways of telling a story, including film and writing.
“Giving young disabled people the skills to tell their own stories is very important,” said Charles. “It can increase their self esteem, reduce their feelings of isolation and help them cope with challenges in life.”
“Being bullied in class. People throw stuff at me. They pick on me. Say names. They swear at me and I feel angry, sad. Sometimes I stay quiet. Sometimes I react. I chuck stuff – my books – back and shout until a teacher comes. I wish I wasn’t bullied. Please think about what you’re doing and how you would feel if you got bullied.”
Brandon is one of the young disabled people who took part in the storytelling workshop. He is 13 and has Global Development Delay, and has experienced bullying at school.
Brandon’s mum, Melanie said, “He has had an extremely hard time at school from day one, and he often comes home crying. He finds it very difficult to get his ideas across.
“The workshop was fantastic for him because he’s never felt confident talking about himself, yet by the end of the day he’d managed to tell his story for the first time. It really was quite a breakthrough.”
We’re also publishing 100 stories from disabled people and their families in the run up to the general election as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign.