It's the seventh week of our #BREAKFREE campaign - and we're tackling labels and the ways that we judge other people, with the help of our ambassador, Becky Olaniyi
‘I used to hate going outside, because I didn’t want people to judge me, but that just made me more miserable. I have cerebral palsy, but it doesn’t mean I can’t have a social life, or a family, or a career. Still, it’s hard. I know everybody sees me, but at the same time, it can feel like nobody sees me at all. When people are building things, those with disabilities should be at the forefront of their minds, rather than an afterthought. My flatmates go clubbing, but I can’t; my wheelchair takes up too much space, and they can’t always stay in with me. I do have some good times, but it won’t get easier until people change.’
Becky Olaniyi is 19, and goes to university in Birmingham. She has cerebral palsy, which means she needs a wheelchair to get around – like 1.2 million people in the UK do.
But if 1.2 million people in the UK rely on wheelchairs, why is Becky still stared at wherever she goes? And to be honest, even if the number was different – if it was 1,200, or 120, or 12 – that wouldn’t justify making Becky feel like she doesn’t fit in. It wouldn’t justify staring. It wouldn’t justify building nightclubs without wide enough doors, or lecture theatres with stairs up to the seats.
We all like to think we’re nice people, who don’t judge others and offer opportunities to all. But facts – and experiences like Becky’s – suggest otherwise.
Which is why this week, we’re calling on you to #BREAKFREE from labels, and judgement, and stereotypes. We’re asking you to open your eyes to see beyond somebody’s differences – to get to know people for who they are, rather than what they look like. We want to branch out, and talk to people who we’ve written off as having nothing in common with, and to stop making assumptions about strangers based on their appearance.
We want opportunities and equality for all women – regardless of their physical abilities, personal style or mental health. And we want you to join us.