Sunday, 5 June 2011

Alcohol - It's no joke.

A brilliant campaign about the risks of alcohol; in which comedians do a sketch about certain alcohol related issues, but the outcome lives longer than a hangover...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Stop sexualising our kids!

Music can taken us to very powerful emotions and take us to different scenarios, But what about when the music has somewhat inappropriate lyrics and the place is unpleasant? This is a problem that parents are currently tackling, should children be allowed to view the world through music, music videos, and television?

The popular television show 'the sex education show' as a side feature they ran a campaign called 'stop pimping our kids!' which was about this exact issue.

The subjects included were:
Music videos
'unsuitable magazines' positioning in newsagents.
And clothing.

High heels for five year olds? Seriously?! It's hard to believe but the high street is becoming more and more sexualised and it is taking a profound affect on children. But the question is who's task is it to sort it out? Should parents be taking a more active approach in protecting their children from things they believe are unsuitable or should the manufactures or television companies be taking the responsibility on themselves and making their content child friendly?

Technology is also taking its toll. Seven year old's with facebook, MSN, Mobiles and laptops: is this really necessary? I remember when I was that age I only had a tamagotchi! But not only are kids ageing to early, but with it they lose their childhood. 

So PLEASE retailers, music channels and all the rest - stop sexualising our KIDS!!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

My First Experience of Goalball!

In 2012 London will host the Olympic, and Paralympic games. It is an opportunity for the world to all celebrate sports and athletic achievements. So thinking about this I decided to look into what Paralympic sports are out there for Visually Impaired people. I didn't have to look that far. My Facebook news feed in fact lead me in the right direction telling me that some of my friends - who have a VI - had liked 'goalball'.

So onwards to wikipedia, and here is the definition:
'Goalball is a team sport designed for blind athletes. It was devised by Hanz Lorenzen (Austria), and Sepp Reindle (Germany), in 1946 in an effort to help in the rehabilitation of visually impaired World War II veterans.[1] The International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), responsible for fifteen sports for the blind and partially sighted in total, is the governing body for this sport.' - Source wikipedia.

'Participants compete in teams of three, and try to throw a ball that has bells embedded in it into the opponents' goal.[2] They must use the sound of the bell to judge the position and movement of the ball. Games consist of two 12 minute halves (formerly 10 minute halves).[2] Blindfolds allow partially sighted players to compete on an equal footing with blind players.' - Source Wikipedia.
So Goalball sounds a bit:
Unlike other Paralympic sports goalball dosen't have very long, complicated and confusing classification systems. If you have a visual impairment you can do it in the paralympics! Where as with equestrian and other sports classification is split into varying levels of disability: 

Grade I is for more severely physically impaired jumpers, Grade III is for the least physically impaired jumpers, Grade IV is for the Visually Impaired jumpers. - Source

So I went off to give it a try! The 'Hull Outreach Goalball Team' were kind enough to let me join in and I got going! It is a very hard sport to play but I found that my navigation with a blind fold on is surprisingly good so that was very reassuring! The ball travels at amazing speed but luckily the other players were kind enough to be nice to me! I have had a bash with the ball on the nose but I am still good and well! 
I went to sessions for a few weeks but I am currently having a break due to other commitments, a shame really as I do enjoy it. I think goalball is a very good game for anyone with a visual impairment to get involved in and would fully recommend it.
For more information about goalball go to: 

Beverley 2K Fun Run!

Every year in my local town of Beverley there is a 2K fun run for anyone who wants to take part; plus a more challenging 10K for the more ‘energetic’ of people. This year I ran the 2K to raise money for ‘LOOK’ Charity.

I had to do a lot of training in advance because I am not a brilliant runner, but I got there in the end! It was so exciting on race day lining up next to the start line with the other runners. I had the privilege of running next to Hull City mascot – Rory the Tiger. 

I raised £225 – which exceeds my target of £200. I am very, very, grateful to everyone who sponsored me and helped me raise such a large amount of money! LOOK is an excellent charity who I hope will put the money to very good use.

You can make a donation at:

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The Bigger Picture!

Look - like many other charities- made their way to St Lukes Church, Birmingham on wednesday the 23rd of september to do a very special workshop about a very big issue...
Visually Impaired young people are just like anyone else, trends and styles matter as well as practicality (especially in low vision aids!). That's why the 'bigger picture' workshop took place - so at last VI kids can say goodbye to clunky old magnifiers!

First we all were shown a lot of different magnifiers and were asked to rate them for practical use, packaging and style. We were shown some awful examples of magnifiers and it really got our minds going about our dream low vision aid!
Look also set up a creative area for siblings of VI children or very young visitors. They could let their creativeness flow as they customised their own (otherwise boring!) Look bag. In the main hall were stalls and representatives from:
  • Action for blind people
  • Rnib
  • QAC
  • Guide Dogs 
  • Mobility Training
  • National Blind Children's Society
  • and a range of technology.

Families and visitors popped in throughout the day and it was nice to meet up with old friends and meet new ones! It was serious brain power in the 'bigger picture' room though as the young people came up with increasingly creative designs including, mini televisions camouflaged inside books and a hands free reading magnifier - Alan Sugar would have been impressed!

All the examples of magnifiers were borrowed from birmingham focus for blind people and the 'bigger picture' was a joint effort between LOOK, playtrain and vision 2020. Playtrain are experts in consultations with children and how to get young people's ideas flowing! They also specialise in collecting product research from children.

Vision 2020 is a collaboration of all different organisations within the UK, which focus on vision impairment and operate on a national, regional or international basis.

The day was thoroughly enjoyed by all and hopefully we might be seeing some stylish LVA's on the shelves soon! ]

it was a tough judging process!

If I was this magnifier I'd be frightened of the judges in the 'bigger picture' room!

Maybe an article on the day will make the audio magazine!

This particular magnifier is a lifesaver for one young participant!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Dyslexia, Dislexea, Dislecseea?

Dyslexia affects 1 in 10 people in the UK. Dyslexia makes it difficult to process words and their meanings and is often linked with dyscalculia (inability to process numbers). Dyslexia is currently incurable - but what is dyslexia and what is the country doing to help sufferers? 

Dyslexia is usually spotted whilst a child is young. long term symptoms may include:

  • Bad short term memory.
  • Impaired maths ability.
  • Poor concentration
  • disorganization 
  • Slower to process information.
  • Trouble with order and routine.
Dyslexia is a problem with the brain that often runs in families and can sometimes be linked to left-handedness. Abnormalities in the brain cause dyslexia, but there are some links to eye sight with dyslexia too. Visual stress and some of the symptoms of dyslexia are quite similar and overlays are useful for both. For people with visual stress and dyslexia words can look like this on a page:

These are overlays, different peoples eyes prefer different colours to make their reading easier. Glasses can also be tinted in overlay colours so reading is even simpler!

I spoke with Lucy - a 14 year old dyslexic to find out more about the condition, and how it really affects young people.

"So Lucy, when were you first diagnosed with dyslexia and how did it happen?"

"I was eight. The Primary school I went to suggested that something was wrong but they didnt take it any further. My Mum was unhappy about the lack of help they were giving me so in the end she paid to have me privetly tested for Dyslexia at the local university."

"Did you know what was happening at the time? Can you remember?"

I can only remember bits but I remember it being quite fun really - I got asked a LOT of questions! The woman asked me lots of questions and she just watched what I said and how I reacted to certain things. I think I did some reading but I'm not sure. Towards the end of the day the person who had tested me told my Mum I had classic dyslexia."

"Was your family upset with the result?"

"I think they were more relieved actually because they knew what was wrong with me and how they could help and that I would get help. They thought that the school would do more about my problems now that I was diagnosed."

"How did the school react and what did they do to help?"

"The school was slightly supportive but they could have done more. I got more help - In year three I got put into a lower reading group which was a lot better. I got more support and they knew I wasnt just bad at reading. Then I moved primary schools and I got a lot more help, I still find using an overlay very useful."

"Whats the worst part of being dyslexic?"
"Seeing people reading and being embarrassed about how long you take to read. It makes me feel annoyed angry and upset."

"What do you think the government could do to make it easier for young dyslexics to live with the condition?"
"More tests for dyslexia in primary and secondary schools. They should be free too. They could also give overlays to primary schools to test kids who have trouble reading. "

"What do you think easy read format is?"
"I dont know."

Easy read is a format for people with learning disabilities of any kind. It features pictures that symbolise the simplified sentence opposite it. for example:

Then Bella watched the birds from the top of the cliff. 

This helps people who find it otherwise hard to read normal text and is now being produced by many transcription companies. 

From talking to Lucy and finding out more about 'Easy Read' format, I have started to understand how dyslexia affects people. Though there is no cure for dyslexics, there are lots of things to help, for example: extra time and readers are available in exams, and computer programmes such as 'Lexia' teach spellings, phonics and vocabulary simply and effectively. With 1 in 10 people in the UK diagnosed with dyslexia it is becoming a priority for medical research, meaning new treatments are on their way. So there is certainly hope for dyslexics of the future (and present too!)!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Dream Snatchers!

We all dream, we dream of things to come and things that could have been. Children are big on dreaming and ideal jobs are frequently thought of. From scientists to models, from policemen to nurses- anything is possible for anyone, unless someone stands in the way. Disabled children dream too, and they have the power to be whatever they want to be, so why are film and TV companies using fully able actors to play disabled characters whilst unemployed, disabled, actors stand in the wings?

In glee – the leading American musical teenage drama – a main character, paraplegic ‘Artie’, appears on TV singing and rapping, smiling away. Is this inspirational? The impressive performance on screen is the image of equality, but when the stage is folded away Artie walks the red carpet– literally. He is not a paraplegic, and he wasn’t cast as one either. Many talented disabled actors are unemployed through lack of jobs, especially if their mobility is impaired- and this job would have been a dream for any of them. There aren’t many disabled character parts to be cast anyway, but when they are scandalously given away to unworthy actors who could have any part at all – it’s a disgrace!

This happens more and more, the sad thing is disabled children might feel they can relate to Artie and the character might give them hope. But as he is nothing less than fiction, he has nothing in common with them at all. Disabled children need to know they can be whoever and whatever they want to be and that doesn’t change because of a disability. But they can look up too some real role models like Cherylee Houston who plays Coronation Street’s Izzy – a real wheel chair user. She is the first disabled character in Coronation Street to become a regular face. In the past Ali Briggs, a hearing impaired actress, stared as Rita’s Niece Freda. In fact the new trend of pretend disabled actors hasn’t been shown on Coronation Street because all their past disabled actors have been genuine. The show and Ali won Best Portrayal of the Lives and Viewpoints of Disabled People on Television, at the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (RADAR) People of the Year Awards in 2005.

So, though double lives are very Hollywood, they shouldn’t get in the way of disabled people’s childhood acting dreams, coming true.  Not only will the quality of acting be better, but it will be a real picture of equality that we should all frame and cherish.

 (Right) Kevin McHale as Artie.

(Left) Kevin McHale. 

Cherylee Houston as Izzy in Coronation Street.

Radar awarded Ali Briggs an award for her performance in Coronation Street,