I'm Jessica-Jane Applegate, I'm 20 years old and I'm an elite swimmer. I've competed in competitions all over the world, I've set over 75 new British Swimming records and I've won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in London 2012 and Rio 2016 and in 2013 was given an MBE. I also have a learning disability.
Figures this week showed that the number of prosecutions for hate crimes against disabled people has risen by more than 40% over the last year. I have a learning disability, and I live in supported housing run by Mencap. When staff there told me about the rise in hate crime, I was shocked but not surprised.
To this day, I would love to ask that doctor, 'what are you sorry for?' There's nothing to be sorry about, it's just a different journey. Our girls bring us so much joy and in September they started at the same mainstream school as their big brother Finlay. Our family feels happy and healthy. So now, four years down the line, if this is our journey then we wouldn't swap our tour guides for the world.
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.
After I was born I had a six-week check up and the doctors found that I had a rare condition called Pulmonary Stenosis. This meant I had to be referred to Harefield Heart Hospital, but it wasn't until I was two years old and after lots of tests that I was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome, which means I also have a learning disability.
The results are in. People with learning disabilities and their families have marked all 5 main political parties in England, based on whether they will defend the rights of people with learning disabilities in the future. It's good news for the Greens (81%), not bad for Labour (71%), terrible for the Conservatives (18%).
Coming from such a comparative background of privilege and witnessing lives that in many cases have very little hope of a bright future provides a powerful incentive to make any small impact I could to benefit children's lives. I was powerless to help the children I saw when I was away, but I knew I could make a difference to those in the UK.