Last week my son was asked if he would do a talk at his Cubs group on Disability awareness.
He was reluctant at first, he isn’t much of a public speaker but what he wrote in the end left a lump in my throat.
She is funny, pretty, cute and small. She is also annoying, bossy and doesn't like to share with me.
She is just like any other little sister - except she has a disability.
Bella was born with Cerebral Palsy. This means she is unable to walk because the muscles in her legs don't work properly.
She also finds it hard to use her hands - she can't write or do buttons or zips.
Bella goes to Crosshall Infant school and does the same things that all the other reception children - she just does it in a wheelchair.
I don't like them thinking she is different or weird, it makes me really cross.
At home Bella plays picnics, sings, she says really funny things.
When you see someone in a wheelchair say hello or smile because it will make them feel better.
I really enjoy pushing Bella in her wheelchair, its fun. She can do it herself though but likes me to do it.
Bella needs lots of help doing things and she always gets all the attention but I love her the way she is.”
Oliver doesn’t wish that Bella could do certain things or express great sadness for not having a ‘normal’ sister.
The people he is talking about that stare are often adults, but its more out of sympathy than of negative feelings.
I feel that media recently has gone overboard with sympathy for those with disabilities.
While it may create a more positive feeling than those twenty years ago, those with disabilities are still not seen as ‘equals’ or as capable of leading fulfilling lives.
I think this is what Oliver sees, he sees his sister doing things differently, but he sees beyond her chair and her physical abilities.
In school Bella is a popular member of the class, the children play with Bella when she is in her standing frame or when she is crawling across the floor- they just accept she has to do things a little differently.
I don’t know at this stage if this is will change as she gets older but I like to think that this generation of children are more exposed to difference and so it won’t be so ‘taboo’.
I asked Oliver if he felt sorry for Bella being disabled – he replied “Why would I? I feel sorry for her being a girl!’
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