Setting Myself a Challenge
I’m from a generation where if you had a disability not a lot was expected of you, sadly a narrative some members of my family also shared.
I was lucky in one sense as I attended a “special” school where I lived and went home each day as normal. However, school holidays were lonely if my cousins weren’t around, segregation meant I didn’t really get to know the local children well, and I was viewed as different or an object of fun. I desperately wanted to go to school with my older brother, but inclusion didn’t come in until 1981.
As I grew older, I found school never held my attention, this was because many of the other children needed more help, and the curriculum was limited. This was until my teen years when a new teacher came in and raised the bar. Unfortunately, with fractures, 6-week hospital stays, and limited education, I was at this time not where I should have been, and I left school with a grade 2 in art and English CSE.
I went on to further education at college where my career was chosen for me, one I never pursued because it wasn’t what I wanted. I then decided to do what I wanted to do, so I went on to move around the south coast, had my poems published, and lived life to my full free-spirited potential.
Enrolling into Further Education
I had my son in 1993 and went about raising him. However, there was always this nagging feeling that educationally I could have done far better, so I set myself a personal challenge. In 2011, after a divorce, I joined the Open University and began studying Psychology. I studied for two years, but took time off from studying to focus on my son, who at this time was a hard work teenager, trying to start out in the world.
I re-started with another degree in 2017, with a change to the social sciences. That was five years ago. I am now in my final year, I have passed every module, and have a certificate in higher education social sciences; I only have one more module to go. (I am part-time so it`s six years instead of three) I have felt myself grow as a person, as well as my confidence. I have used my knowledge as a telephone volunteer with three mental health charities, and am due to start a new charity soon, each is more experience gained. The biggest surprise I have found is the change in attitude in people I meet, their whole demeaner changes when I tell them I am doing a degree. Their facial expressions often give them away that they weren’t expecting that. However there have been nice reactions where people are intrigued, they engage in conversation and ask questions.
Never Give Up!
I have proved to myself I could do it, which was my own private goal, but more than that I have changed perceptions of disability and helped lots of people with my new knowledge.
I am looking forward to autumn this year where I will be one module away from a BA (honours) Social Sciences and will (hopefully) have completed my personal challenge for myself. It’s never too late!