‘Help us plan our lives’

I am almost 17 and live at home with my family. Once a week and
some weekends I go to a children’s respite care home. It gives my
mum a break and I enjoy going out with the staff. I go to a special
needs school. Last year I joined my local People First in making a
video about our experiences of being bullied. Now I work at People
First one day a week as part of my school work placement. At People
First I answer the phones and go to important meetings like our
partnership board meeting.

I am going to tell you about some of my experiences of being a
young person with learning difficulties who uses a wheelchair, and
what I would like in my life. Some things about me are just like
any other young adult. I like to watch soaps, especially Emmerdale,
help my mum out at home and read magazines after school. Sometimes
I fight with my brother. Other things about me are different.

My brother, who is also a young adult but is not disabled, has
friends who ring the house and come around to visit him. It’s
harder for my friends to come around the house because they all
have different needs. We mostly talk on the phone. I think young
people with learning difficulties should get more support so they
can hang out with each other.

My school is different from that of kids who aren’t disabled. At a
regular school the kids have to take GCSEs. They get advice on what
to do after they finish school, like what college to apply to. At
my school we don’t have exams and we only have the chance to go on
a “special” college programme for people with learning
difficulties. I don’t know if I am going to college but I wish I
knew. I don’t know what I want to do when I finish school, which is
hard. No one seems to be helping me. I know I want to keep living
with my parents. If I lived on my own I wouldn’t know who could
help me out. I know some of my friends at People First use direct
payments and have their own homes but no one at school has told me
about this. They did teach me something about cooking. I do cooking
with my dad. My parents encourage me to get out on my own.

I have some ideas about how the government can make the lives of
young people, like myself, better. They should give us better help
in planning our lives, as we get ready to leave school. They should
encourage us more and listen to our worries. They should teach us
about sex, relationships, having babies, and all that. People must
think that if they don’t tell us about sex and kids then we’ll stay
innocent forever. I also think the government needs to make
transport better for disabled people so we don’t have to depend on
our parents all the time

As you can see, some parts of my life are different to that of
young people who aren’t disabled. I don’t mind being disabled, I am
proud of who I am. What I do mind is when I don’t get the same
rights as everybody else.

Joanne Bowering is a member of Milton Keynes People

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