Celebrating World CP Day with Caitlyn Fulton
6th October 2021 by Ellie Thompson
In June, Diversity and Ability worked with charity Whizz-Kidz to provide work experience for Caitlyn, a youth ambassador for Whizz-Kidz Scotland and an individual who shares our passion for disability justice and global inclusion. As part of her work experience, Caitlyn prepared a communications project around a topic that means a lot to her: World Cerebral Palsy Day. We’re so happy to be able to mark and celebrate this important day with the help of Caitlyn! Here’s what she has to say:
At the beginning of June this year, I undertook a three-week work placement with Diversity and Ability (D&A), organised by Whizz-Kidz.
D&A are a disabled-led social enterprise, supporting individuals and organisations by providing technology, talent and training to make environments as inclusive and accessible as possible.
I aspire to work within a communications role in the future so I shadowed Ellie Thompson, Communications Officer for D&A.
The aim within these three weeks was to create content for a communications campaign, choosing an awareness day and creating relevant content. It didn’t take me long to decide on World Cerebral Palsy Day today as that’s my condition, and it means a lot to me.
With a successful project picked, the next steps during my placement would be to plan it all out: starting with background knowledge, researching this year’s theme, tailoring to the correct audiences to, of course, creating the content.
During my second week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Adam Hyland, the director of Accessibility and Inclusion within the company.
Throughout our conversation, we spoke about our personal interests, our education over the years. We touched on both having CP. We shared the same views when it came to accessibility and the everyday barriers we encounter as disabled people, for example – ‘inspiration porn’, a term created by the late disability activist Stella Young which describes the damaging way disabled people are viewed with sentimentality or pity, objectified, or seen as ‘inspirational’ simply for existing.
Although it may not be meant to patronise, that’s how it comes across. You may mean no harm or insult by your thoughts; you may even show a genuine interest. Often, all it takes is education. Once people have the knowledge, they change their assumptions. All that we ask is that you take the time to learn.
Being disabled stems from the societal and environmental issues that prevent us from being able to access society.
I’m a full-time wheelchair user and for me, and many others, this means that lots of pre-planning has to take place prior to outings to make sure everything is accessible, whether this be travelling or at the venue itself, which causes stress too. It can be rather degrading and upsetting when buildings aren’t accessible as I can’t enjoy the same experiences as a non-disabled person because I can’t get in. Another reason to fight for accessibility and inclusion for all. This is usually a result of listed/older buildings (with steps to enter or no lift inside etc) and adaptations can’t be accommodated. However, although more modern buildings are accessible than older ones, most still aren’t fully accessible. There’s still a long way to go.
It’s not us that need to change or fix any conditions we may have: it is society that needs to change as everyone deserves access and we have so much to give if we were able to access everything.
Any challenge I face, whether it be access or daily tasks, I adapt to overcome them. I always feel like I was given this life because I’m strong enough to live it, but I shouldn’t have to because no one should have to fight for access.
I may have a lifelong condition due to being born premature but it does not define me. I have a creative mind. I’m a singer and enjoy all things music in my spare time- from concerts to theatre-, love blogging and most recently, motorsport. I’ve certainly experienced some rather exciting and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities over the years: modelling, sport (I play Boccia at a professional level) and work placement opportunities (for example, this very workplace organised by Whizzkidz!) – all thanks to my creativity, strength and the value of my lived experience.
Having Cerebral Palsy just adds that uniqueness, a wee bit of extra flavour and it makes for one powerful story… from all of the good and hard times. I wouldn’t change a thing about myself. I’m grateful to have such a supportive family by my side, always there for me and cheering me on, supporting all my ambitions. It’s no secret that every day we celebrate our achievements, no matter how big or small. However, on a day like today, it’s rather liberating as we all come together worldwide to show our support, raise awareness and promote inclusion and educate others, ultimately shining the spotlight on CP and rightly so!
How’re you celebrating today?
Thank you to Ellie for being a brilliant mentor, guiding me throughout and Amy at Whizz-Kidz for making this placement possible! It’s great to see it all come together today. I learned many transferable skills, got to meet some great people and thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the team! This is just the start.. who knows where it’ll lead me next!