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Life is full of events and certain things stick in our minds for ever. For some, doing something for the first time is exciting and is seen as a challenge whereas others may feel nervous or a little scared at the prospect of doing something different. There are others who really want to have experiences but may have barriers in the way as they make their way through life.
Regardless of who we are, we all expect the same things from life –to be loved, accepted and valued.
This week (June 16-22) is Learning Disability Week and Mencap are looking for people to share stories of their ‘first time’ experiences.
We shouldn’t be defined by ‘labels’ and disabilities – as Mencap explains, ‘it’s our experiences that define us’ and it’s these experiences that are being celebrated during Learning Disability Week.
Bromford’s focus on what people can do, rather than what they can’t encourages inclusivity and offers opportunities for everyone to get involved and to experience their very own ‘firsts’.
There was a recent ‘first’ for a group from the Stratford Hub to get hands on experience of the thrill of a parade day when they took centre stage in a celebration of William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday in the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon.It was an exciting day for all those involved and they also helped to design artwork, make decisions on a theme for the structure and make the costumes. Bromford colleague, Jessica Tunley explains, it was a chance for everyone to be a part of a historical event and to be represented within their local community.
The focus of Learning Disability Week is ‘incredible firsts’ and what could be more incredible than growing your own fruit and veg. That’s exactly what customers at the Leamington Hub have been doing. What’s even better is that they don’t just grow the food for themselves – the whole community can pick their own gooseberries, redcurrants, raspberries, potatoes, chickpeas, onions, rosemary, rhubarb, a selection of mints, chives, parsley, sage and strawberries.
Hub advisor, Laura Hill, explains that it’s thanks to the Incredible Edible project that the customers have been able to get involved in the community, in some cases for the first time. These projects really bring the community together and encourage our customers to feel less isolated whilst building confidence, learning new skills and promoting healthy eating.
Leamington HerbsA similar project is also underway at Bromford’s Studley Hub where the customers have been helping their community set up raised beds in preparation to grow their own fruit and veg. The volunteers are also going to be helping out in getting the project ready to enter Studley in bloom - another fabulous first.
Green fingered fun is great and very rewarding but it can also be quite tiring so what better way to relax after a day of planting than an evening at the theatre. Mable’s Secrets – a production by Mencap Pathway Drama Group recently gave some of our customers the opportunity to get involved in another fantastic first.
After weeks of preparation and enthusiastic rehearsals, the group performed in front of a 50 strong audience made up of parents, carers and professionals. The evening was a massive success with Hub regular, Phil Babb taking to the stage for the first time in his life.
“I was a bit nervous but I got over that”, said Phil, but once he started performing the nerves left him, he explained “I felt like a pop star or a film star!” Although he found reading the script hard, he loved acting as it made him feel more capable when saying his lines. Phil explains that he will definitely be carrying on with the drama sessions as being in the spotlight made him feel really proud of himself.
It’s important that we take the opportunities that are offered to us - you never know when you might experience another ‘first’.