In this guest blog, Lloyd Page, who has a learning disability, reviews the recent Learning Disability Today conference and exhibition and talks about his roles in the day.
Last Thursday (November 26), I went to Learning Disability Today at Kensington Olympia in London, which is an annual conference and exhibition about learning disability. It was the fifth time I have been, so you might say I’m a bit of an old pro!
I really enjoy going to Learning Disability Today. It is a great opportunity to meet people like me who care about making life better for people with a learning disability. Everyone has lots of ideas and thoughts to share and it’s a great place to learn new things.
This year at Learning Disability Today, I helped to run a health surgery. It was a question and answer session with learning disability nurses, teachers and learning disability dentists. I enjoyed talking about health because it is important to me, as it is for many people with a learning disability – we all know how poor the care we receive can be within the NHS.
I asked questions like “why is good and accessible healthcare important for people with a learning disability?” It was interesting hearing all of the different perspectives. At the health surgery I also got to play with some sensory toys, learn about looking after your teeth, and find out how much sugar is in different food and drink. These are important things to understand.
After the health surgery, I joined in with the Music Corner. About 15 of us sat in a circle and chose an instrument. I had some cow bells and my friend Sian had a drum. We had to follow a pattern and we all played rhythms together, which was really fun. By the end we were all laughing and playing, and it sounded great. It felt like we got to know each other even though we weren’t talking. I’d like to do it again.
My favourite bit of the day was hosting the Joke Corner in the afternoon (pictured, above). I had gathered about 50 jokes and read them out to a crowd. They went down a storm! Everyone laughed and said it was very funny. My friend Louise came especially to see me perform. My best joke is: “What do you call a singing laptop? A Dell!”
At the end of my Joke Corner, I was really excited to be awarded Learning Disability Champion in the ‘person with a learning disability’ category. I felt so happy and Jan Alcoe from Pavilion, which organises the Learning Disability Today conference, read out a really nice speech about me. I received a shiny medal, a certificate and a gift voucher. I feel very proud and will polish my medal every day! It was such an honour because I know the other people nominated for the award and I have a huge amount of respect for all of them.
I really enjoyed Learning Disability Today. These sorts of events are important because lots of people who are interested in learning disability are not often in the same room together. It’s a good chance to swap ideas and give each other accessible information. It’s important to keep talking about the issues people with a learning disability face so that we can change attitudes. It’s also important to meet new people and have fun!