Having a long-held passion to ensure young people feel empowered, ready to make change for the future and have the opportunity to do anything they set their mind to, I am determined to do whatever I can to positively affect this. I am particularly driven to give a voice and opportunity to young people with disabilities, both physical and intellectual. I wish to improve the lives of those with disabilities and additional needs by helping break down the barriers that are held in the mainstream world. I truly believe that every person with a disability should be given every opportunity that people without disabilities are given.
I have a brother called Will who has Downs Syndrome. He is a huge inspiration to me and others around him. He has taught me so much and allowed me the opportunity to have some invaluable experiences. He is an incredible 17-year-old who can achieve anything he sets his mind to. However, like many young people with disabilities he has experienced discrimination and isolation. As he became a teenager, there was a huge decrease in opportunities for him compared to his peers.
I decided that if the world was not going to create opportunities for people like my brother, it was down to me to make changes. I set up Tadcaster Stingrays when I was 15 years old. Tadcaster Stingrays is a swim squad open to young people aged between 11 and 18 with learning and physical disabilities. The club is all about inclusion and promoting sport for all. It is an opportunity for the young people to gain a sense of belonging and be proud members of a group. The inclusive ideas behind Stingrays are shining through everything we do and give the young people something which in the past has been limited by lack of opportunity.
I also became a Play Unified Ambassador alongside my brother and sister. I set up a Play Unified group at my school. Play Unified uses sport and activities as a catalyst to create a unified generation in which people with disabilities and people without disabilities do sport and activities together. In 2016 I was selected, together with my brother to be youth leaders on the Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Inclusive Youth Activation Committee. With this we have been to many places presenting our ideas on a global scale.
Being on the YST Youth Board and being a member of Inclusion 2020 are amazing opportunities for me. It is a chance for me to influence how the world sees individuals with disabilities. To change perceptions of disabilities and increase opportunities. To show that disability is not a barrier to success.
YST Youth Board Member