Tag Archives: confidence

I think some communities lack disability awareness

Zara is 26 and has cerebral palsy. She’s also Muslim, and blogs about her experiences and every day life. Here she talks about gaining self confidence and the barriers that still exist within some communities. 

As salam o alaikum / Hi guys!

I was a very premature baby and had a lack of oxygen, which resulted in me having spastic diplegia, a form cerebral palsy which affects my legs. I remember having a walker as a child, and I wore leg braces until I was about 12.  I also have a little stutter.

At 15, I had surgery and they put what they call ‘disks’ in my legs which enabled me to walk independently, and I have been walking ever since.

I’m very grateful for having a loving and supportive family, which I think is why I didn’t really feel any different to anyone else until I started school. School was a bit of a nightmare, and I got bullied a lot.

I’ve always struggled with my self confidence and school definitely didn’t help. I always shied away from people I didn’t know. I used to think ‘what if they question me about my legs?’ or ‘what if they don’t understand me when I speak?’

Gaining confidence

Things got a lot better for me when I started college. No one really cared about the way I walked – people were a lot more friendly which was nice for a change. I made a good group of friends, and my confidence started improving too. I talked a lot more, and I didn’t just shy away from people like I used to. I started to feel good about myself. I realised that what other people thought of me didn’t really matter anymore. I got my qualifications in IT and Business which I was really proud of.

My confidence is definitely improving as I get older. I’ve learnt to love myself and I no longer care what other people think. My cerebral palsy has made me stronger, more determined and humble as a person and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How disability is portrayed in Islam

As a Muslim living with disability, I want to write a little about how the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) treated disabled people.

Greeting Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum (radi’allahu an) with respect and humility, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) designated him as the Leader of Madinah many times in his own absence. As far as the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was concerned, Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum’s blindness was not a barrier in his ability to carry out his duties.

Similarly, the case of Julaybib (radi’allahu an), another companion of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), was described as being dwarf-like in appearance. While many people in Madinah had made him an outcast, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) instead approached a family to give their beautiful daughter as a bride for Julaybib. (Source: Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) made people with disabilities feel welcome in society, and his behavior is an example we all should be following.

Communities should embrace disabled people

I’m really grateful to my family for everything, because without their love and support I wouldn’t be as strong as a person as I am today.

I count myself very lucky because, unfortunately, there is still a small number of disabled people who are faced with some sort of bullying and barriers from within their own Muslim communities.

I think some of our Muslim communities can lack in disability awareness – it’s just not talked about as often as it should be. One reason for this (in my personal opinion) is because we should speak out more and make our voices heard instead of just hiding away.

You can talk to Zara on Scope’s online community. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Do you have any similar experiences to share? 

Trendsetters

It’s the end of the Trendsetters project, but we hope it’s just the start of something new!

In 2009 we spoke with a lot of young disabled people who told us about their experiences. Some felt isolated, some lacked confidence, and some felt that other people didn’t understand their situation. We felt that there was an opportunity for Scope and young people to work together. We met with a group of young people to discuss some ideas. They said they wanted to create and share information for themselves and other young disabled people, and to talk to each other. This was the start of Trendsetters.

What we did.

Trendsetters have achieved lots during the course of the project. We’ve made lots of films, for example, on bullying, a ‘day in the life of’ a young person, team work, and accessibility. Together we’ve created postcards about cerebral palsy, and confidence and self-esteem. It’s been great meeting each other, talking about stuff, sharing information, having a laugh, making new friends and eating pizzas!

What’s next?

Sadly, the Trendsetters project has now finished. It’s been great getting to know you all. We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who has been involved, particularly the committed and enthusiastic young people who came to the workshops and created the information and content on the website. We’re really keen to stay in touch with everyone.

We’ll be working with young campaigners: you can share your story with us, write a blog, volunteer or help out at our events. Get in touch soon!

Why I believe in inclusive education – #100days100stories

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.

Inclusive 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.

First Impressions

Young disabled woman working at a desk
Mima at work at Scope’s offices

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.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.

You can prove anything with statistics….

George Bernard Shaw is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar. He once remarked “It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.”

Sadly this confirms that my intelligence is not what I might have hoped. It’s very rare that I find statistics anything other than dull.

But perhaps I need to think more about what lies behind the statistics.

As part of our monitoring the Our Generation project, we use questionnaires and look at numbers of people engaged with the project. Even though these tools give us a good overall picture of what we have achieved, for me they never really capture the personal impact our project has on the people who take part.

One of our volunteers was referred to us some time ago as someone who could potentially benefit from our service. She was matched to a mentor and together they worked on building up her confidence.

To begin with she was apprehensive about leaving her home. Initially we worked towards the goal of her being able to travel to our office for meetings and then progressed to meeting other service users and volunteers. Over time, her confidence increased to the point where she completed our volunteer training course and became a mentor for others.

Now she is now able to travel independently. She enjoys weekly aqua-aerobics, is a committee member with her local social club as well as volunteering for our project, supporting other people to improve their lives.

In an email she recently wrote to us, she wrote:

“I was at the eye clinic last week and unfortunately they have changed my status from partially sighted to severely sight impaired/blind. The doctor says there is nothing more they can do. I will gradually lose sight in both eyes due to cataracts and can’t be operated on due to the glaucoma but thanks to all at Scope I’m able to take each day as it comes because im now in a much better frame of mind and feel much stronger. I just wanted to say thank you so much for being there for me.”

So next time I see in a report that “service users expressed an improvement in Life Satisfaction from an average of 4.5/10 to 7.5/10” maybe I’ll be able to see past the numbers to the real stories that lie behind them. Those can be genuinely moving.