Guest post from Mima from London, who took part in our First Impressions, First Experiences employment programme and is now aiming for university. Mima uses an electric wheelchair, and types on an iPad to communicate.
When Mima was in secondary school she spent some time at a special school. The lessons at the school were not at the right level for her, and she’s since developed a strong belief that disabled and non-disabled students should learn together whenever possible. Here, she shares her story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.
I’m hoping to go to university to study sociology and religious studies. I loved sociology when I did it at A-level – you can really look into society and see how it works. I’m especially interested in disabled people’s rights and education.
I have a very strong belief in inclusive education. I went to a mainstream primary school, but then I went to a special school between the ages of 11 and 14.
It wasn’t right for me at all. I wanted to learn and do my exams, and we were singing ‘Ten Green Bottles!’ I wasn’t learning anything.
When I was 14, I moved to a mainstream school. It was much better – I could do my exams as normal, and I was much happier. I loved it even then, but now I appreciate it even more. My year group was a family unit to me – some of my best friends are from school.
I worked with the same personal assistant at school for seven years, and I did A-levels in psychology and sociology.
I tried university from January to July, but it didn’t work out. The atmosphere wasn’t a good place to learn, and to be honest I was quite lonely. There were people I thought were friends, but they weren’t.
After the summer holidays I decided not to go back. I felt depressed, my confidence was quite low. I was doubting myself quite a lot after uni. It was the biggest disappointment of my life.
My career advisor told me about an employability course called First Impressions, First Experiences. I started in September 2014.
We learnt how to present ourselves; how to prepare for interviews. We did mock interviews, which were quite intimidating – I failed my first interview, but I passed my second! I feel much more confident for job interviews in the future.
The most important thing was making a great group of friends. They are my best mates. We still talk nearly every day on Facebook.
I learnt to be more self-confident. I feel more empowered as a young disabled woman, and it feels awesome!
As part of the course, I also went on placement. I went on a work placement at Scope for three weeks in their campaigns department. I learnt that there’s so much that goes into a campaign – so many little things – and that now it’s much quicker to get messages out there via social media. I designed my own campaign on inclusive education.
I’m volunteering at my old special school now. I want to work in special educational needs, as a teacher. I want to inspire the kids. I want them to know they can make the same journey as me.