I am a big believer that a little kindness can go a long way! This UK Kindness Day I want to challenge people to make an effort to be kind to someone who may have a learning disability.
Growing up with a learning disability can make life difficult. Nine out of 10 children with a learning disability have been bullied at some point. It's time we put a stop to this. At the same time 1200 people with a learning disability are dying avoidably each year within the NHS. I really think that public attitudes towards people with a learning disability are behind this.
I work at Mencap, and am lucky enough that they are all a great bunch of colleagues, who treat me with kindness and respect. There are around 1.4million people with a learning disability in the UK, but only 6% of people with a learning disability are currently in employment. This is not enough. I know that working makes me feel very proud. Unfortunately not everybody has the opportunity to feel this way!
I have been lucky and did not really encounter bullying because I went to an inclusive school, which was incredibly supportive. Working at Mencap also means I work with a team of friendly and caring people. But lots of people I know have been victims of verbal abuse. However, I have lots of colleagues who also have a learning disability. Many of them have been bullied or called offensive names at some point because of their disability. People can be very unkind sometimes. One of the things that really does drive me crazy is people's use of the 'R word'. This kind of language is hurtful and makes me feel like I am different because of my learning disability, when I'm really not!
If everyone was just a little kinder when choosing their language, we would soon banish hurtful language like the 'R Word' from the dictionary altogether! I enjoy conversations about learning disability but it's really important that people know the correct language to use and don't hurt anybody's feelings. Everyone is equally important and deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.
Sometimes people think that I can't do certain things and discriminate against me, but little do they know, I am more than capable. I work full time at Mencap. As well as being the first face people see when they walk in, I also work in the campaigns team and am a regular spokesperson for learning disability. I always keep a positive attitude and take the time to explain my abilities to people who don't think I am capable- a bit like Shakespeare who said to kill them with kindness! Nobody should be judged because they have a learning disability and I'm always happy to speak out against the stereotypes some people have.
There are lots of ways you can help spread the love; after all, kindness doesn't cost a thing. So this UK Kindness Day, go out of your way to do something kind for someone else. Even better, treat every single day as UK Kindness Day!