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‘Make Your Mobility Aid Your Own’ Writes Kate Stanforth

| Guest Blogger | Other Disability News
‘Make Your Mobility Aid Your Own’ Writes Kate Stanforth

I was at a dance class today and during a check-in exercise I was thinking about how nervous, shy, and small I felt in the space. We had a 5 minute meditation at the start (where my mind forever wanders) and I thought about what spaces I feel comfortable in and which give me that feeling of anxiety where I want to curl into a ball, hide my face under my jumper and squeeze my body tight for some reassurance. You’d be surprised that’s me in a lot of situations. My exterior is often a very bubbly Kate who overcompensates with laughter and groovin’, but inside, confidence is something I have struggled with for a long time. A mix of anxiety, being neurodivergent, and still getting to know my ‘new’ disabled self (after 14 years) is what I’ve pinned my struggles down to. But, I’ve made progress, and that’s what I’m here to share with you today— my secret to how to be disability confident!

Make Your Mobility Aid Your Own

I was terrified of using my wheelchair when I first became unwell. Now, after a pretty long journey, I see it as a part of myself and something which really helps me do the things I love. One of the things which helped me with acceptance of my chair was decorating it. I used to put fairy wings on it so people would comment on the wings and not the chair, then it grew from there. Now, I have a bright green wheelchair and I love decorating it for events. With Christmas coming up, I can assure you it will be covered in tinsel and lights!

Here’s some ideas:

  • Get a light up walking stick if you want to be holding a modern work of art on a daily basis.
  • Get coloured push rims for wheelchairs to improve grip and traction but also add some colour to your ride!
  • Who doesn’t like some good ol’ fairy lights?

Learn To Pose

Not everyone is a photo person, but if you are, something to learn is how to pose with your mobility aid. The key to being disability confident is that you feel strong on the inside so you can channel it. On a good day, go out and celebrate yourself by getting some pictures clicked.

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Your new best friend will be a portable tripod and getting it at the right height (especially if you’re sitting in a wheelchair) is important. Once you’ve got a few poses sorted you’re all set, although it’s always useful to show family/friends how to pose with you so you don’t look like the odd one out. I’ve actually been inspired to host some classes on this in the new year to help people with their confidence in photos, so watch out for that one!

Quick Fire Answers

Something I always struggled with is those types of questions you get when you’re out like ‘Why are you in a wheelchair?’ My answer to that one has changed over the years and will vary from person to person. But it’s helpful to remember that you are in control and you don’t have to answer it.

My current rule is this— answer then deflect.

So, ‘I’m in a wheelchair because I have a condition called EDS. What are you shopping for today?’ I could go into my full medical history, but I don’t want to do that every time I’m out, so quick bit of info and ask a question so you can move on. Oh, and always have a get out plan. Mine is usually really easy because I have an assistance dog and I say I was just on my way to take him for a wee, but saying you’re just on your way to do something is just as good.

 

Being Disability Confident |s A Journey

So, I doubt I have solved all your confidence issues but I hope that in sharing my experience you might have picked up some tips or at least not feel alone in this. The last thing I really want to say is to own it. Own every part of you as a person, whatever your quirks, and watch your confidence grow and grow. I look forward to seeing you shine.

 

You can follow Kate’s journey on her Instagram or book a dance class with her!

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