By Rebecca Stewart
With the diagnoses of my nephew with Xeroderma Pigmentosum three years ago, aged just 13 months, I have spent a great deal of time considering the needs of others, especially young people. Something I have come to realise is how important role models are to children with disabilities.
This was what spurred on our own Little Ted project. Our initial aim was to provide parents with the tools to help young children understand their complex condition. What we have in turn realised is just how invaluable he is as an inspirational character that children can relate to. How they have loved having a friend who is “just like them.”
However books and bears like Little Ted are few and far between.
Representation of disabilities in children’s books, programmes and film are very hard to find, yet there are all manor of people suffering from all manor of disabilities who are kicking their conditions in the butt and showing the world that they can be heroes too.
London 2012 saw the most successful Paralympics to date with record numbers flocking to watch Olympian champions old and new.
An athlete friend of mine was diagnosed seven years ago with type 1 diabetes and he has made it his moto that “I rule T1 diabetes!” his mission is to be proof and educate people in just what can be achieved living with this condition. In 2013 he successfully completed the epic Marathon Des Sables and now has his sights set on the 350 mile self sufficient foot race the 6633 Arctic Ultra in March 2016.
And indeed our very own XP Champion Richard Barlow who joined Team Ted to raise awareness and funds for our Little Ted project and rode the 100 km London Nightrider is showing he is not letting XP stop him.
But you don’t have to go to extremes to be someone’s inspiration. Especially in the early days just being shown there is a way forward can make all the difference. So I am urging not just those who suffer from XP but people from all walks of life with all manner of conditions to be somebodies Hero, be somebodies Champion, be somebodies Role model.
And come on authors, programme and film makers, it is about time you started representing the 11.9 million disabled people in the uk!!!!! (It’s not like you are short of inspiration!)
The time has come to bring disabilities out from the shadows.
We want heroes and champions that show that a person with limitations need not live a life that is limited.
After all as a very clever bear once said “Anything is possible if you plan and prepare!”
Little Ted – Copyright 2015 Nicola Miller.
Illustrations by Michael Howdon
Guest Blogger – Rebecca Stewart
(Teddington Trust Treasurer/Trustee and Eddison Millers Auntie!)