Disability Inclusion

blue badge.jpgI think I want to write a bit this week about disability and inclusion in youth work, yes I definitely think that’s what I’d like to write about. So ……
A story which I hope will serve as an introduction and form the basis for some reflection.
As a family we had the privilige of being at Butlins for a week in the Spring break. My thirteen year old son, H (who has cerebral palsy) and is passionate about driving, loves Butlins. He likes it for all sorts of reasons including the greater degree of freedom he enjoys, but most of all because of the Dodgems. If you are staying at Butlins then the fun-fair is free. For H this means packing a drink and a peaunut butter sandwich into a bag and heading down to the Dodgems. Once there it means queuing, having a drive, joining the back of the queue and driving again (and again). The staff at the Dodgems were fantastic, willing to help him put his seatbelt on and happy to wait the extra time it took for him to extricate himself from the car at the end of a session. Fab!
H’s dream though was to drive a Go-kart and every day he would study the track, the karts and the drivers. This year he met the height criteria necessary to pilot a go-kart round the track and he was so excited that I’d promised him a go.
The alloted day arrived and he was actually quivering with excitement as we approached the barrier. Money ready he waited to buy his turn. Sadly the supervisor wasn’t quite so keen and was point blank that H was not driving a go-kart.
Why?,” I asked
Because he’s not old enough!” came the explanation.
I patiently explained that it was height not age that was the criteria according to their own stated rules …. and beside which there were young people significantly younger actually driving on the circuit.
The answer was still an absolute no and I patiently pointed out that it wasn’t fair to deny him the opportunity because he had a disability.
It’s not his disability, it’s a health and safety judgment!” I was told.
Despite protestations I got no further than being told If he wanted to have a go I would have to hire the more expensive two seater and he could be a passenger.
There was no point in arguing, H and I left frustrated and disappointed.
It was so important to H though that I decided we shouldn’t give up. We went back the next day in the hope that someone else was on duty, someone who’d be more willing to give H a chance despite his disability.
The guy on duty was fantastic! He was open to me explaining that I believed this was within the capability of my son and that he would really like to try. He took my son seriously and was willing to negotiate. He was happy to let H have a drive but decided that he’d prefer to not have other drivers on the circuit for safety reasons and would be happy if my son and I had 2 separate cars on a closed circuit.
H drove it brilliantly, keeping the kart under control the whole time and even managing the winding pathway back to the garage at the end of the 5 laps! The sense of enjoyment and achievement he’d experienced was massive and obvious, the gargantuan grin lasted for hours afterwards.
I was tempted to turn this into the parable of the ‘Disability Discrimination Act’ but then I thought, nah! I will probably write some stuff on DDA tomorrow though.

The human cost of conflict

Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories: The human cost of conflict
Oxhub Speaker Series, in association with Christian Aid.
Nigel Varndell of Christian Aid’s Advocacy and Policy Group for the Palestinians and Israel will explain what life is like ordinary Palestinians under occupation and what Christian Aid is doing to help.

Wednesday 21 May – 8pm Magdalen Auditorium – Magdalen College
Admission Free – All Welcome Refreshments available at the end

Greener, cleaner and meaner

SNLPG Astra.jpgI have now taken possession of the new Youthblog mobile office, family taxi and Kayak Carrier. It’s a shiny 2004 Astra estate that is quite happy to have it’s pistons fueled by petrol or LPG Gas. The LPG gas burns cleaner and with less bad-for-the-environment junk ejected from the exhaust pipe (did I ever tell you that German for Exhaust gases is auspuf ).
Not only does it churn out less muck, it uses fewer pounds too in the filling up process.
My first 200 miles required 28 litres of gas and although this is a greater amount than it would have needed in petrol, LPG is only 57p a litre and so 200 miles for £16! If you were to work out the comparative mpg on a cost basis, this is equivalent to a virtual 60mpg.
This is very good news indeed and means that I have switched to a car that is four years newer at no net cost (the repayments each month are less than my fuel savings!)
LPG, you should try it, it’s a gas!

Language convertor

teen compclip.jpgI use the Google language translator a fair amount and it’s a really useful app, particularly to check stuff. I thought this was great though, translate your writing into genuine tweenage Bebo text talk. Great fun! I know a couple of parents who read this who will, I’m sure, use this for a bit of fun!



Futuring and youth and children’s strategy

On the 21st May (yes, short notice) there is a consultation in London looking at strategy and development of youth and children’s work (faith based). The day will include some scenarios from a leading futurist and the hope is to spark collaborative, creative thinking and imagining. Due to the short notice (and the fact that the Diocesan Youth Advisers are at their national conference) it would be good to find additional experienced youth workers as part of the thinking and conversation. Expenses payed …. Can’t guarantee you’ll get a place but let me know if you are interested.

‘Harrass young thugs’

A story from the press this morning that is winding me up:
The home secretary, Jacqui Smith is proposing a strategy for disaffected young people that is being reported as a move involving “hounding them” and making “their lives as uncomfortable as possible”. The Guardian reports that this recommendation will form part of a speech by the home secretary today!
Captain’s Log Supplemental: I’m pleased to say that the actual speech was not as negative as (I presume) the press-release put out ahead of the speech that the papers picked up on. It also was not only focussed on young people which was what had been pre-presented.

The Get out Clause

paper vid.jpgA story from the press this morning that amused me:
Unsigned band, “The Get out Clause” had no money to make a video to go with their single, “Paper!” In the very best traditions of Plan B though, they headed to Manchester and at various times, set up and played to a total of eighty different CCTV Camera’s. They then (and this is the genius bit) requested the footage back under “The Freedom of information Act” and voila, a video. Nice!
Here’s the low down and some clips from the video.