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!
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!
Katherine has been involved with the Trendsetters programme since she was 12. It aims to let young disabled people make new friends and learn new skills. Katherine is sharing her story as part of the #100Days100Stories campaign.
I’ve been a Trendsetter since the project was started back when I was just 12 years old. Back then the scheme to help young disabled people was just a pilot programme. I’m now approaching my 18th birthday and I can’t believe that I’m going to be leaving Trendsetters. The prospect makes me really sad!
The project has been a lifesaver
The project has been a lifesaver for me as it’s given me new skills to handle my disability as well as the support from fellow Trendsetters who were both older and younger than me. I’ve loved having the opportunity to work both individually and as part of a bigger group. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the scheme. I now want to help other people have a similar experience that I had with Trendsetters. It’s so important that young disabled people and their families and friends can get the support they need. I’ve learnt so many things growing up with a disability that could be helpful to others.
I’m now in my last year of school. I’ve been in a mainstream school for all of my life and I’m now doing my A-Levels in biology, chemistry and maths. I’ve had cerebral palsy which has been a minor complication for me, as it means that I’m a full time wheelchair user among other things, like not having full hand control. Mostly I have difficulty multi-tasking (shouldn’t every girl be able to multitask!?).
When I’m not studying I’m just like any other teenager, but I especially enjoy creative writing. I’d love to do more writing about some of the issues teenagers face, like bullying, self-image and making people think a bit more about what they have and who their role models are.
I’d love to write more about how disabled people deal with people’s reactions so I can tell other young people that you don’t have to be superman/woman all the time and that at times you will get awkward situations and questions from friends and others. Trendsetters helped give me the confidence to write, speak out and help other disabled people. I can’t wait to put some of the skills I’ve learnt in to practice and to stay involved with Scope’s work!
Jhon is from Leicester. He’s really passionate about making his voice heard and making a difference for disabled people. Jhon has shared his story as part of our 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign.
Please note this video flickers slightly at points.
When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor as I wanted to help people with disabilities, like my own. When I was about 11 or 12 I stated to become interested in politics because I wanted to get young people’s voices heard, and particularly young disabled people. This is something I’m really passionate about as I sometimes felt ignored as a disabled person.
Not only did I want my voice to be heard, I wanted everyone else’s voices to be heard too.
I’ve already started thinking about how I’m going to achieve this. I know that qualifications are important and I’ve been looking at universities and what qualifications I need to get on to the right course.
I know that I need to be well rounded and I’m trying to get experience, because universities want people who are passionate and committed. I’ve worked with lots of different organisations and charities. Scope were really helpful because I was able to be a Trendsetter and shape the way they work with young people. This has really helped me improve my confidence.
I’ve been speaking to as many people as I can to get as much experience and information as possible. I’ve achieved quite a lot so far and have spoken at Parliament a few times, which was an amazing experience. It helped me to develop my communication skills which are really important.
I’m determined to do the best that I can in my A-Levels and university and continue to gain more experience in politics, which will help me achieve my goals.
If you’re a young person looking for a job or to make a change in the world, my advice would be to make a plan, speak to people, don’t be frightened, and have fun!
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.”
This week is national Anti-Bullying Week, and this year’s theme is disability-related bullying.
Research by the Institute for Education shows that disabled children are twice as likely as other children to experience persistent bullying. This can take many forms including physical abuse, name-calling and cyberbullying.
Jack is doing an apprenticeship and is also possibly the only disabled mixed martial arts fighter in the UK – but part of the reason he took up the sport was as relief from the bullying he experienced at school.
“It started in year eight. Words like ‘spastic’ were thrown around at me and those words got me into trouble at school, because I wouldn’t stand for it.
“It was hard. I don’t want any kids, disabled or not, to go through it, because it was horrible.”
Boxing training helped put things into perspective.
“Over the course of a couple of months, I realised that I just needed to chill out. There are going to be people in the world that are just idiots, they have no idea what they’re on about, they throw the word [spastic] round like it’s funny, and it’s not.
“But then, I’ve got friends and family who support me 100 percent, so I just forget about it.”
Rebecca, a youth ambassador for Ambitious about Autism, says she faced bullying from her first years at primary school.
“I remember people saying mean things to me, and I was always left out of friendship groups because I acted differently,” she says.
“I moved schools several times to try and get away from the hate I received, but it followed me everywhere I went. On the school bus I got hit, pushed and verbally abused so I ended up having to walk, and even then the bullies followed me.
“Other students called me weird, loner, freak, fat and ugly, which was one of the hardest things. People say words don’t hurt but they do, and they can have a long-lasting negative effect.”
What to do
The Anti-Bullying Alliance has put together a list of top tips for parents who find out their child is being bullied. Here are a few of them:
Don’t panic. Stay calm, try to listen, and reassure them that you are there to support them, and things will get better once action is taken.
Try to establish the facts. It can be helpful to keep a diary of events to share with your child’s school or college.
Stress that the bullying is not their fault, and that you will not take any action without discussing it with them first.
Don’t encourage retaliation to bullying, such as violence. It’s important to avoid hitting or punching an abusive peer.
Discuss the situation with your child’s teacher or Head teacher – or the lead adult wherever the bullying is taking place. Every child has a right to a safe environment in which to learn and play. Schools should have a behaviour policy which sets out the measures that will be taken to prevent all forms of bullying between pupils.
And what if you’re a young person experiencing bullying? Rebecca says: “The most important advice I’d give to other young people with autism who are being bullied is to not let people bring you down.
“Don’t let them hurt you. Speak up and ensure your teachers and parents actually deal with it. It can be hard to confide in someone, but when you do it can release a lot of weight that may be on your shoulders. Bullies are just jealous of how awesome we are!”
The Trailblazers have been very successful in highlighting the issues which affect young disabled adults, including access to higher education, employment and improved transport. Recently Sulaiman Khan the London Ambassador for the Trailblazers came to talk to staff at Scope about the successful campaigning activity he has been involved with.
I delivered the first training sessions on campaigns and advocacy to the Trailblazers and have followed their progress over the years with great interest.
I recently attended a Trendsetters workshop and was inspired by meeting the Trendsetters and hearing what they had to say. This got me thinking that Trendsetters could be campaigners too!
We’d like to offer training to younger disabled people in their teens to help them build up their campaigning skills so that their voices may be heard in their communities.To achieve this the Community Campaigns Team will be holding training sessions in London over the coming months.
These first sessions will be held in London but we will be delivering a similar programme later in the year in other parts of the country.
The training sessions will give you the chance to learn new skills and tools and to hear from other people who have been able to make life better for disabled people and others in their community.
The events will be held from 10.30 – 3.30 on the following dates:
Saturday 26 April
Saturday 10 May
Saturday 24 May
Saturday 7 June
6 Market Road
If you’re a young disabled person aged 10 to 18 and you want to change people’s attitudes towards disability and improve the way disabled people can get involved in the life of your community, please come along.
The events are free to attend and we will provide you with lunch and cover the cost of your transport.
To find out more about how you can take part and book your place please email YourCampaigns@Scope.org.uk or phone me, Rosemary Frazer, on 0207 619 7718.
We caught up with the Trendsetter who made the video to find out how things are going now.
Your film has had around 9,000 views so far. How do you feel about this?
It amazes me that we’ve had over 9,000 views of the film. I don’t think any of us expected the response to be this great, especially as there was nothing that we could find on the internet about disability bullying.
You mentioned in the past that you wrote about your feelings. Was this helpful in dealing with the experience of bullying?
The poetry I write helps me deal with what happened to an extent. It was very useful when talking to the guy at school because I found it really hard to just talk about the bullying at first, so knowing he already knew took the pressure off me a bit.
Might other young people find this helpful, especially if they haven’t got someone they can easily confide in?
It can be really helpful to write about how you are feeling, but it will only get better if you tell someone, whether that’s a friend, a teacher or your parents.
What would you say to teachers about bullying?
If you are a teacher witnessing bullying don’t just stand there, actually do something to stop it, but in a way that is not going make it worse for the victim.
Trendsetters is a project run by Scope for young disabled people.
Anti-Bullying Week calls on children and young people to take the lead in creating a future without bullying – using new technology to promote positive communication rather than being held back by cyber bullying.
Bullying is something that many of Scope’s Trendsetters, a group of disabled young people, say they’ve experienced.
We ran a workshop with the group about bullying this summer.
Bullying causes bad feelings. We threw these into a bin.
One Trendsetter wanted to use technology to share her experience of being bullied. She wanted to send out a positive message about stopping bullying by creating this short film on bullying.
Her message is: “If you are being bullied, or know someone who is, tell someone.”
Do you need someone to talk to?
ChildLine – 0800 11 11
ChildLine is a free, confidential support service. Their staff speak to thousands of young people every day – you are not alone. Phone 0800 11 11 or visit the ChildLine website.
BeatBullying online help
Guest blog by Trendsetter Connor who is 16. Trendsetters is a project run by Scope for young disabled people. As it’s Halloween this week, he’s written a blog to tell us why he wants to be a ghost hunter.
I want to be a ghost hunter because I am interested in the paranormal. When I was three years old, I was walking into the bathroom and looked back and there was a figure stood in my bathroom. Then I looked back again and it was gone.
I definitely believe in ghosts because every house I’ve lived in, I’ve had strange experiences.
I’m really interested in the history of ghost hunting, scientists started trying to record ghosts as far back as 1933.
Halloween is on the 31 October and is the perfect time to do some ghost hunting. You could use things like a torch or a camera to try and see a ghost.
This Halloween why don’t you try and get into the spirit of things? How about these fun ways to get involved:
Get dressed up. You could try a spooky costume or a costume you think is fun.
You and your friends could try telling each other some scary stories with a small prize for the scariest.
Ask an adult to help you make some super-scarey food. Put some gummy worms in jelly for some ghostly ectoplasm (that’s the stuff ghosts leave behind).
Let me know what you are doing for Halloween in the comments box.