Disability heroes open hearts about prejudice

Two inspirational people with disabilities have spoken out to break down barriers and encourage tolerance as part of a powerful campaign.

Sunday, 4th December 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:41 pm
Believe I'm Only Human - Howe Bridge Sports Centre

Danny Dawoud and Georgina Hall are ambassadors for Wigan Council’s #BelieveImOnlyHuman campaign.

Danny and Georgina, who both have disabilities, have shared their own experiences of prejudice to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of People with a Disability today.

They have spoken about their hopes for the future and say attitudes towards people with disabilities are improving.

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Believe I'm Only Human - Howe Bridge Sports Centre

#BelieveImOnlyHuman was launched this year to challenge prejudice based on race, religion, sexuality, mental health and physical disability, age and gender.

Danny, 24, from Hindley, is a national standard wheelchair rugby player who is vice-captain of the Great Britain talent squad. He said he has experienced discrimination throughout his life.

“Whether it was through my height or the fact I’m in a wheelchair it definitely has affected me,” he said. “You can experience it so much you can actually become numb to it.”

Danny said that events like the Paralympics can have a major effect on people’s perceptions.

Believe I'm Only Human - Howe Bridge Sports Centre

“Look at the effect that London 2012 had on society in Britain,” he said. “The barriers I believe are being broken down now and we are teaching the younger generation in a more positive way. The #BelieveImOnlyHuman campaign reminds people that there are different types of people living in the same borough.

“We want to improve the image of us as a community. The only way we can do that is by getting the message out there that we might all be different, but first and foremost we are all human.”

Georgina Hall, 24, from Golborne, suffers from severe epilepsy. She was diagnosed six years ago.

She said: “I was happy-go-lucky and did what I wanted when I wanted. Suddenly I got epilepsy and I was restricted. I have spent a lot of time in hospital. At the time of the diagnosis I was starting university.

“I didn’t give up and I got my degree, which is great, but in day-to-day life generally I can’t be left on my own.

“I’ve lost friends through it and I’ve been mugged twice having a fit.

“I have been affected by prejudice and I think people pity you in a way and I don’t want that.”

Georgina, a youth worker for Wigan Council, said education and raising awareness of disabilities was key.

She said: “I think the main thing is to educate everybody so everybody knows it’s ok to be different from the norm even though there is no norm.”

Coun Jo Platt, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “By having role models like Danny and Georgina we can highlight how people with disabilities can achieve great things and contribute so much to our communities.

“Their stories help increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance which is what the campaign aims to achieve.”

n To pledge your support for the campaign visit: www.wigan.gov.uk/believe