My name is Becky and I am 16 years old. Life is a bit different for me because I have quadriplegic cerebral palsy. I use a wheelchair to get around and a communication aid with eye gaze technology to help me talk. I am studying for my GCSE’s and I attend a local church. Like most teenagers, I enjoy playing video games, hanging out with my friends, watching YouTube and listening to music.
What do you do to enhance your wellbeing?
I love drama and I am part of a local drama group, where I make lots of friends. It is great fun and we get to go on stage at our local theatre twice year, dancing, singing and acting. I also love painting pictures with my eyes. I use eye gaze technology to access my computer as I can't use my hands. Painting helps me to relax and makes me feel happy. Finally, I love to go swimming and to just relax in a hot tub, as the warm water relieves my aching muscles.
What barriers do you experience that can threaten your wellbeing?
Many people assume that because I am in a wheelchair, and because I can't talk, I therefore cannot understand the world. Some people talk to me like I'm a baby, and others just don't talk to me at all. I am the same as other teenagers my age, but find I have to educate people about my disability so that I can be treated like an equal member of the community. Another barrier for me is physical access to buildings and facilities, such as disabled toilets. I need to be hoisted out of my wheelchair to be able to use the toilet, as I can't walk at all and I am too heavy for my mum or my personal assistants to lift me. There need to be more hoist-assisted toilets such as 'Changing Places' facilities installed in the community so that disabled people like me can be truly included, and so we don’t have to go home when we need the toilet.
Which connections count in my life?
Connections are very important to me. I love my family and my friends. They keep me going, especially when life is hard. Most of all I love God and I am so grateful that Jesus died on the cross for me so that I can have a relationship with Him.
What does community mean to you?
I love to help other people and give back to the community. One way I do this is by sharing my expertise on eye gaze technology. I helped the gamers’ charity SpecialEffect to develop and test a new eye gaze interface to the game Minecraft, and now lots of disabled people around the world can play Minecraft for the first time, just using their eyes!
What’s one thing society could do to combat loneliness?
I would love to see disabled people being accepted, included and involved in the community much more, as it is so easy to become isolated and lonely. I think disabled people have a lot to contribute to their communities, and this needs to be recognised and things put in place to make this happen more. We have a lot to contribute and I think communities would be much better with our involvement.
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