We wanted to share a different perspective in our motivational and inspirational blog of the week. Simeon is a young person who happened to be born with two disabilities. As today’s guest blogger, he is sharing his world with us as well as his thoughts on living life to the full and the impact – for all of us – of our attitude to life. In our pictures, do you see the wheelchairs or the abilities of the people in them? Worth a read …

The impact of labelling

It’s interesting that even before we are born we have already been given labels. Boy, small, British, funny. Harmless right? Let’s add disabled, physically impaired. Just stating the obvious? These labels that we are given even before we are born start the foundations of our personality, the characteristics that make us who we are. For a lot of disabled people, the labels that are given to us are negative and unfortunately overpower the rest of the characteristics and positive labels that we were born with.

The label disability has become a negative label that then diminishes our abilities. Our one disability becomes more important than the many abilities that we have. It becomes a massive barrier that gets in the way of our dreams and goals for our future. We decide that our disability is the one thing that stops us achieving what we want for ourselves.

My disabilities

My name is Simeon Wakely and six months before I was born I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. Spina Bifida is a disability that people are born with. As the name suggests its to do with the spine, when I was born there was a gap at the bottom of my spine. The doctors had to do an operation when I was 48 hours old to close the gap. Due to this my nerves that send message from my brain to my muscles in my legs are damaged and I am paralysed from my waist down. I have a manual chair that helps me get around everywhere, and therefore my chair is my legs.

Hydrocephalus, is a disability that sometimes gets mistaken as a disability that comes with Spina Bifida, It doesn’t! In simple words hydrocephalus is when a build up of fluid surrounds the brain. For an ‘able-bodied’ person the fluid can be absorbed in to their bloodstream, however for someone with hydrocephalus the fluid needs to be transported by using a shunt that helps the fluid flow in to their stomach.

You don’t miss what you’ve never had

These disabilities both sound negative and yes they can be at times. However, I am glad and proud to have been born with a disability. I understand how that sentence may come across but let me explain what I mean. All I know is what its like to be in a wheelchair. I don’t miss walking because I have never had the experience of walking.

Only a part of my life

If I was an “able-bodied” person, I would probably have turned a blind eye to the issues that disabled people face on a day to day basis. I would not hold the same values as I do.

Don’t get me wrong I get fed up of all the doctors appointments I need to attend, the waiting list for me to get my own flat is huge, but to me they are only a small part of my life. My disability is only a small part of my life.

The only disability is a bad attitude

People say it’s a bad, negative issue if you have a disability, which It really is not, unless you make it one. The only disability in the world in my opinion is a bad attitude to life. Reason being your attitude to life determines your future and how motivated you are to achieve your goals.

Now, I’m not saying that if you had a disability that effects your mobility, or if you are needing 24-hour care, that it is not difficult, because it can be depressing. I know people who do need 24/7 care and they need support to get around. What I am saying is that those people still live life to the full and are now traveling the world showing that their abilities are more important than their one and only disability.

My opinion

Before I go on I must explain that what I am writing is my opinion and only my opinion. These are my own thoughts as a disabled person who has lived all my life in a wheelchair and has experienced many challenges society that has put on me. You may disagree with me, or you may find that some of my comments are hard to understand. There are lots of different types of disabilities and these are mine.

Inspired by Hensel

Someone who has inspired me is Robert M. Hensel who was born in 1969 in Oswego, New York and also happens to have Spina Bifida. Hensel once said “There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.” I absolutely love this quote: it really means a lot to me and expresses the same view of society that I have.

In 2004 Hensel realised that society was concentrating more on his disability and less on his many abilities. He wanted to change that perspective and decided that the only way to get people to change their minds was to set a world record. Hensel decided to attempt the longest wheelie nonstop and completed the task by setting a new world record of over 6 miles, and he still holds the title to this day!

Hensel also wanted there to be a designated week that would not concentrate on peoples’ disability but, instead, concentrate on their abilities. Oswego County agreed and passed a motion recognising that 1st – 7th October should be known as ‘Beyond Limitations Week’.

When being interviewed Hensel said “I have a disability yes that’s true, but all that really means is I may have to take a slightly different path than you.”

Thank you Simeon. Twitter: @lifewithability

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