Sunday, 21 April 2024
Sunday, 21 April 2024

‘It is so important to instil in young disabled children that they are worthy’

GRACE Spence Green is a proud patron of Children Today. This month we asked her to share her views on why having the right equipment is so important for disabled children and young adults.

Grace is a junior doctor working to challenge the narratives surrounding disability, medicine and identity. In 2018, aged 22 and a 4th-year medical student, she sustained a spinal cord injury and is now a full-time wheelchair user. She is passionate about medicine, advocacy for the disabled community and challenging ableism, the stigma surrounding disability and inaccessible spaces.

She would love to see better and much more inclusive representation for disabled people in all walks of life and particularly in medicine and the media.

In the months of rehabilitation which followed her life-changing injury, Grace learned that she didn’t have to fit into the small and narrowly defined box into which society so often places disabled people. She has not only qualified as a doctor but will be running a pioneering course for fourth-year medical students on medicine and disability; has returned to the climbing walls (she was a former UK U18 climbing Champion); travels widely and hopes in the future to work in the field of paediatrics, advocating for disabled children.

Grace said:

“Most of my freedom of movement, autonomy and independence is because of the motorised attachment I received through the help of friends and family after my spinal cord injury. Trying to manoeuvre the cobblestones, lack of curb cuts and generally unpredictable pavements of London in just my manual wheelchair left me limited, frustrated, and exhausted.

“Receiving my attachment opened a world of opportunities. I no longer had to rely on other people to travel somewhere; I could visit friends and family whenever I felt like it and felt safer at night with the knowledge I was able to zip home easily.

“I could now explore terrain that with my manual wheelchair is just not possible. This meant my access to nature; woods, beaches, and rocky paths grew exponentially. I no longer felt like I was trapped sitting on the sidelines but got to be involved in activities.

“I spend so much of my time having to rely on others to help me manage a ramp, a curb or rough terrain, that being able to independently travel while minimising how many times I need to ask for assistance is a wonderful feeling. 

“There is so much value in being able to choose when and where I go, and it made me much more confident as a newly disabled woman. 

“I recognise it is such a privilege to afford this, as often it can be incredibly expensive and therefore inaccessible. 

“When I first read about Children Today, I was really taken by their ethos; it felt so practical and there was such a clear, direct benefit to children and their families. It was such a joy to read about the children they had provided equipment for and what specific benefits they had. 

“Unlike some charitable organisations or fundraisers where children are often obliged to disclose every detail of their medical diagnoses to receive funding, where evoking pity seems to be part of the aim, showing these children in a positive light, while also empowering families to be able to fundraise for themselves is so important. 

“Disabled people become so used to living in a world that is not designed for them. Standard equipment tends to be ill-fitting for most, with blanket adjustments that do not acknowledge the nuances of individual disabilities. 

“Giving someone the opportunity to use a piece of equipment that is tailor-made for their specific needs is life-changing. It means less social isolation, inclusion in family activities, increased access to educational opportunities and the freedom to discover new passions. 

“I believe it is vital for all children, both disabled and able-bodied to be exposed to and interact with children that have different disabilities. 

“Enabling disabled children to interact and enjoy their environment, whether that be through mobility, communication, or something else is vital for their development and self-confidence.

“I think it is much harder to learn that you are valuable and capable later in life if you haven’t had those experiences as a child. It is so important to instil in young disabled children that they are worthy, that they do belong, that they too deserve to be able to experience life as everyone else does so they can become empowered, self-assured adults.”

To find out more about Children Today, to apply for support or make a donation, please visit:


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