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Shelby tells us about her disability education petition

07 March 2021
It’s #InternationalWomensDay, and we wanted to shine a light on some of the incredible work of one of the young people we support.

Shelby has been supported by Martin House for the last 13 years. She’s a disabled model and social media influencer, and recently, she’s launched a petition calling for disability education in schools.

She said: “I post a lot online about fashion and make up, but also life as a disabled person in general. There are always a lot of questions, which is ok, but also a lot of ableist, ignorant and abusive comments that are very hurtful.

“I look at it as a chance to educate people about disability when they say things that are inappropriate, but I think it would be good to stop the cycle, so if we can educate children, they will grow up and pass that on to their own children too.

“Lots of people I follow online are also disabled, and they all have similar experiences.”

Shelby’s petition has already had more than 3,000 signatures just three weeks after it was launched, but she is hoping more people will sign, so it will be seen by the Prime Minister.

She added: “I get comments like ‘I’m going to push you out of your wheelchair’ or ‘I’m going to switch your machine off and unplug it’. I did a video about having kids and had comments like ‘disabled people shouldn’t have children’, which is basically promoting eugenics.

“I’ve had ‘you look like a vacuum cleaner’ or ‘you look like a pig’. The ones that upset me most are ones saying things like my children would have an awful life. It’s not facts, it’s just stereotypes – they’re just not educated.”

Shelby regularly posts videos and pictures on Instagram and TikTok – where she has nearly 230,000 followers.

She said: “I respond to educate most of the time, but they just don’t care. Sometimes I have managed to educate people on why what they’re saying is inappropriate, and they have understood, but that’s very rare. Sometimes my friends step in and defend me, but it’s a never-ending battle.

“I don’t have the answer completely on how to stop it, but education about disability should start at primary school, so children learn about different kinds of disability, and get to hear the experiences of disabled people.

“We need to teach them that we are all people, and it’s ok to ask questions, but it’s not ok to abuse us.”

You can sign Shelby’s petition at http://chng.it/rvZxW65LV8 and follow Shelby on TikTok or Instagram at @shelbykinsxo.
 
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