Witnessing the extraordinary – Martina reports on Ambassadors Day

Stay Up Late’s Ambassadors Day

Blog by Martina Valesova

Martina is a student at Brighton University, currently carrying out an internship at Stay Up Late. Here she reports on Stay Up Late’s recent Ambassadors Day which brought together many of our Ambassadors from across the country.  People with lived experience coming together for a day of discussion, sharing, ideas for the future, practical workshops – and fun.

There are some days when you realise that even in the midst of ‘ordinary’, you are witnessing the extraordinary – and Ambassadors day happened to be one of those days.

For those of you who may not know, Ambassadors Day is a wholly unique event, which is meant to deepen our campaigning, as well as to raise awareness on how important it is for people with learning disabilities to equal opportunities in terms of social life. Stay Up Late works in close cooperation with Stay Up Late ambassadors, who are devoted to spreading the message about equal rights for individuals with learning disabilities.

Ambassadors Day is a perfect occasion for Stay Up Late ambassadors to catch up on their lives around campaigning and to bring up some questions about what should be changed to make lives of people with learning disabilities better.

It was so inspiring to see how determined Stay Up Late ambassadors are!

They really want to make a difference in terms of ending old-fashioned ideas about people with learning disabilities, because no one wants their life to be featured by loneliness and boredom. We all should keep in mind that at the end of the day, we all deserve the same rights to make choices concerning our own life.

However, it needs to be said that this right to make your own choices, can be highly questionable considering what Emily, one of the ambassadors, had shared with us! She told us that she is often pulled out in her wheelchair because of the impatience of some random people, who apparently cannot take a moment to pause for a second. When you listen to stories like that, it definitely makes you question where Emily’s right has disappeared to make her own choices in those particular moments?

Emily’s story was not the only story I was left utterly speechless by. Daniel shared with a story when he travelled by train, and the assistance guard on the train had refused to provide Dan with a ramp as he was getting on the train, even though Daniel has a certain physical impairment.

Stories like that make you seriously question whether we live in the 21st century or not, sometimes it certainly feels like stepping back in time. Therefore, the whole Stay Up Late mission is so vital, because we all should be destined to have equal rights no matter what!

Having a learning disability or any disability, in general, is also about taking risks that involve ‘getting out of your comfort zone’. It was so profoundly moving when Simon, one of the ambassadors, wisely commented, “You cannot eliminate risk. With risk, there are great rewards. I’ve met new friends, learned new skills, and feel more happy about my life”.

It so amazing knowing that the Stay Up Late team with its #NoBedtimes campaign is strongly dedicated to fighting outdated practices that stop people with learning disabilities from having a normal social life. Moreover, Stay Up Late’s mission is not only about fighting those aforementioned practices, it is also about empowering people with learning disabilities to stand up for themselves. After all, having a disability is not something a person should be ashamed of, yet it is something a person should be empowered by.

Words: Martina Valesova
Photo credits: Header images – Guy Wah. Other images: Martina Valesova

 

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