Tuesday February 3rd 2004
In December 2003, I received an email from a man called Vernon
Noel, from MK Borough Council, telling me that he was running a
project called Positive Images. The aim of the project was the promotion
of positive images of persons likely to suffer discrimination in
society - addressing areas of disability, race, gender, culture,
sexuality, physical & mental health, religion, etc.
Vernon had read my website and thought it would be great if I would
take part in his project by going into a school and talking to them
about my experiences of dyspraxia and peoples reactions towards
So, I showed the email to Mum, who gave me the go ahead. I phoned
Vernon, telling him I'd love to take part in the project. He explained
what the project was all about and told me he'd get back to me at
a later date. For a while, I heard nothing from Vernon, until 25th
January 2004. I received an email form him, asking me if it was
ok for me to speak to Leon School's Year 8 Classes on the 3rd of
February! So, I agreed and began to put together a speech.
10 days later I was stood in the hall being introduced to 200 children
by Vernon. I walked up to the table and started to arrange my notes,
which were printed on cards. I thought I had finished and was about
to start speaking, when I realised that the cards were in the wrong
order! I felt terrified! I calmed down and looked up at the audience
of children and said, "Just amuse yourselves for a minute!"
Eventually I managed to get sorted out and then began my speech.
"I have dyspraxia!" I began.
"Hands up who's heard of it?" Two teachers put their
"One or two people but not many. That is usually the reaction
I get!" I continued. I went on to explain what dyspraxia is
and who it effects me. Then, I told them a couple of stories. At
one point, I was talking about my 'tumbling into the window display'
incident. In my minds eye, this is what I imagined would happen:
Me: I stood aside and leant on a glass door. (pause) Which wasn't
(Audience burst out laughing.)
However, what really happened was very different. I said,
"I stood aside and leant on a glass door. Which wasn't there."
No one laughed.
At this point, I was feeling a little bit nervous! They were supposed
to be laughing, allowing me to go into my bit about how it's funny
now, but I was very embarrassed at the time. But, they weren't laughing!
I pulled myself together after a moment and continued,
"It sounds funny now, I know, but at the time I was very embarrassed."
I continued my speech, talking about the fact I was bullied at
school, how I came to set up my website, how I had achieved so much
now, etc. I ended with this very thoughtful sentence:
"Having dyspraxia makes many things difficult for me, but
it has also allowed me to do many positive things. Without dyspraxia,
I would never have done them."
When I'd finished, one of the teachers stood up and told the audience
that he thought I had shown real courage in standing up and talking
to them all about my disability and my difficulties and that he
knew that not many of the children there could have done it. He
then thanked me for speaking to them. I had a lump in my throat
at this point, so I said "I'd like to thank you for allowing
me to take part in this project and talk to you." And I really
meant it. I really did enjoy it deep down! ;-)
To read the whole speech, Click