Guest Post from YouTuber, vlogger and actor Jack Binstead, who is supporting Scope´s End the Awkward campaign and stars in our Awkward Moments film. Jack has brittle bones and uses a wheelchair.
When I walk, it is very staggered, very messy. Normally I sit in a wheelchair, I can only take a few steps at the time. So I’ve come up with a phrase: I’m a penguin on drugs“.
At school I figured out that if I made jokes about myself first, then the bullies can´t say anything, because I wouldn´t be offended. I found this out when I was younger – turn an awkward situation into a humorous one.
I laugh it off, I switch it round. The strategy still works for me: A lot of my acting in the last few years has been based on comedy.
I will challenge your assumptions
Awkwardness comes from people assuming things. They assume that there are many things I can´t do. It´s always been a big thing for me that I don´t want to look any more disabled than I have to. If there is a slight chance that I can do something, I´ll try.
Especially as a kid there were a lot of situations where I got it wrong: I wanted to impress my mates, I wanted to be no different and the consequence was I fell out of the wheelchair, or I´d bust a finger in a wheel.
Meanwhile, though, I can do amazing things: I can get up and down an escalator. When people see it, their jaws drop, they can´t believe what they are seeing. If I let go, that´s it, I´d be falling down the escalator. There is only a few of us that can do that.
Vloggers are the new celebrities
YouTube is a big thing, vloggers are the new celebrities. I am such a sociable guy, I so enjoy it. Thousands of people subscribe to my channel on YouTube.
Tweets come in every couple of minutes and I have no problem answering all sorts of questions. I have told my followers about my condition: They know that getting out and about is risky for me, because my bones break very easily.
My message to my followers is: You´ve got to get out there, you´ve got to be motivated, you´ve got to be you. There is no point in being anyone else.
Bullying isn’t harmless banter
I am also involved in theatre, I’m doing a big play with school kids which focuses on bullying. They might not know they are bullying, they might think it is harmless banter with their mates – they don´t understand that what they are doing is hurtful.
There is nothing that limits me
For people who are not sure whether to offer help to someone who is disabled, my advice would be: Wait a bit longer, don´t rush into offering help. If I´m struggling, then come and approach me.
Generally, if someone with a disability needs help, they are going to ask. Chances are they want to bump down those stairs by themselves.
I believe that disability shouldn’t limit us. There is nothing about being in a wheelchair which would limit me.
Look out for Jack’s film coming out in Autumn, Bad Education, which is based on the TV series. Follow him on Twitter and You Tube.