#IamSuperHuman – Fighting the stigma of “Disability”

7 July 2017

I hate the word “disabled”. Just take a moment and really think about what this word means. I bet you would associate it with words such as “unable”, “weak” and “incapable”. It has such a negative meaning and as a society, we use this as a label. However, imagine if we were to change this label to something positive. For example, instead of “disabled”, let’s use “Super Human”. I bet you now think of words such as “strong”, “exceptional” and “heroic”. Disabled people are all these characteristics and much more, and here’s why…..

The most obvious example is Paralympians.  These Super Humans are the very definition of super. With over 29 different events in both summer and winter sports, Paralympians are the very opposite of “disabled”. These Super Humans push their bodies to extremes and look beyond their impairments to achieve their goals. For example, Paralympian Richard Browne competes in the Men’s 100m sprint under the T44 classification, which means he is suffering with a lower limb amputation. He has set the world record in this classification with a time of 10.61 seconds. To put it in comparison with “able” bodies, Usain Bolt has the world record in the Men’s 100m sprint for 9.58 seconds.  Even with an amputated limb, Richard Browne is just over a second slower than Usain Bolt, and yet we have the audacity to label him as “disabled”?

But you don’t have to be on the world stage to be Super Human.

 At Kingsley Napley, we were invited to The Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) annual conference, and I was fortunate enough to meet some everyday super heroes. I spent the whole time surrounded by amazing people who varied in sight loss. Some were completely blind and some had partial loss. But the common factor amongst all of them was that they are just as capable as anyone else. I spoke to many individuals who explained how they are able to do everyday things and still able to get on with life. Many spoke of the sports they play or the travels they go on. One person who was completely blind even explained how he takes the London Underground without assistance. I take the tube myself every day and I still end up consulting a map (often after getting lost!)

However, these strengths are also attributable to the carers and trainers who turn these disabilities into powers.

I recently hiked and climbed 16,000ft up the Himalayan Mountains in North India. In true British tradition, I moaned the whole way up. Armed with a walking stick, walking boots and a backpack filled with an unnecessary amount of socks, towels and sweets, I battled fatigue and hurt muscles I never knew I had. My back was completely aching and I made sure I let everyone around me know. But then I looked ahead of me and saw the most unbelievable sight. I saw a couple carrying their teenage son who was suffering from cerebral palsy on their backs. With each step you could see the agony in their legs but their eyes showed determination to get their son to the top. There was nothing stopping their brain injured son reaching the top and experiencing this.  I looked at them in amazement and immediately stopped my moaning.

I had the same feeling when I volunteered to help Kingsley Napleys’ nominated charity WellChild with the Mo Project.  Mo was born with Down's syndrome and following a choking accident when she was 3 years old she was left with a brain injury which means she is now a full-time wheelchair user. Our aim was to build a wheelchair friendly garden so she can still have the same enjoyment that any young child deserves. While I was there, I took a moment to speak to Mo’s mother to understand how Mo’s condition has affected her life. She explained caring for Mo is a 24 hour job and she is required to take Mo to different types of appointments and therapies more or less every day. However, she was so positive about the situation and there was not an ounce of self-pity in her words. She laughed and joked with me the whole time and was more than happy to tell me how much fun Mo is.

With help in the form of equipment, therapy, medical treatment and carers, “disabilities” become easier to handle, and allows the person to live and experience life. This is how we intend to help. If you feel you are suffering from an injury or condition such as cerebral palsy, brain injuries and spinal injuries which was caused through no fault of your own, we aim to get you your deserved compensation to let you continue life without the stigma of being “disabled” and proudly say #IamSuperHuman. 

This blog has been written by Satvir Sokhi, Paralegal, Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury, 020 7369 3847

For further information, please a member of the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury team on 020 7814 1200 or by emailing us at claims@kingsleynapley.co.uk.

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