As a photographer, and founder of Same but Different, I wanted to capture images of people with learning disabilities demonstrating what they could do rather than what they couldn’t. It was very important to allow them to share their stories and experiences.
In the “We can..” project I have used photography to capture images, video’s and written pieces to tell their stories. Each person who has taken part is an adult with learning disability.
My own son was born with a disability and it is that experience that led me to setting up Same but Different. Our aim is to use the arts to break down barriers and to show the people behind disability and to give them a stronger voice in the community. This latest project called ‘We can…’ was wonderful to work on as all the participants were keen to share their experiences and hopes for the future. As adults with disabilities they are so often overlooked and yet they have so much to offer society and should be given every opportunity to work.
All people who have taken part in the project are on courses at Coleg Cambria in Northop, North Wales. They have taken part in the project which was devised by Ceridwen Hughes and funded by the ICF Learning Disabilities & Complex Needs Grant.
I would love a job in admin
“My favourite course is office and media because in that lesson you do many different things and I like computers. I love the fact you can listen to music while you type because it helps me clear my mind out. If I had to describe myself I would say I was smart, friendly, caring, kind and very sociable. In other people I look for someone to have a good personality.” Kate is aged 36. Kate has Downs Syndrome.
I would love to work on trains one day
“Outside college I like going on the trains with my grandad. We go to Seven Valley in the West Midlands and I am a member there. I love trains. I drove one once and we made breakfast on it. I would love to do something with trains one day.” Daniel has moderate learning difficulties.
I create YouTube channels and love music
“I love to write songs and stories and sometimes I do You Tube. I am making my own gaming channel, holiday channel and doing blogs. I love to travel and I once went to Greece for my brother’s wedding. I was his best man. Everything makes me happy, especially writing songs.” Mark is 20 and has Downs syndrome.
My disability gives me a uniqueness that I love
“Having a disability makes you unique, it makes you different from other people. It sets you apart. It gives you a hidden edge that you don’t know you have until you discover it. In a way, it can help you as well as hinder you at times. I have met some people who use their disability to help them and it is can be amazing to see how it goes. My disability makes me think somewhat differently from others. I think at a different pace.” Paige is aged 19. She is on the autistic spectrum, ADHD and also has vasovagal syncope which causes fainting.
I don’t let my disability stop me doing things
“To people who criticise me I would say that even though I have a disability it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with me. I would still go to schools, even though they are special needs schools, I can still do the work and interact with people. I am good at swimming and basketball and I swim quite a lot.” Neisha is 19 and has cerebral palsy.
I would love a job working with animals
“Not enough people care about the animals. I just feel like I was put on earth to look out for them. Since a young age I always had this really strong bond with animals. A lot more than I have had with any person. I just feel like helping them in any way I can. That is why I want to become a vet so I can help the ones in need.” Olivia is 19 and has emotional and social support needs.
I am competing in the Special Olympics
“I love horses because they can sense if you are down or when you are happy. In Sheffield there are Special Olympics for people with learning disabilities and I am taking part in equestrian. I think that people with disabilities should have a chance of trying different things, even if it is ILS to mainstream. It is important because people with disabilities are still human, like everyone else.” Peter is aged 24. He has moderate learning difficulties.
I dream of being a farmer
“Sometimes people make remarks that I can’t do things and this makes you feel like you can’t do it but then I look back and realise that I can do things. I may learn a bit slower but I can still do what you can do. My dream is to become a farmer. This has been my dream since the age of 10 and so if I don’t achieve it I will be really sad. I can’t do it alone. I will need a bit of help to get started but everyone needs help in the start.” Scott Morris, age 20 from Deeside who has moderate learning difficulties.