The annual Learning Disability Week has begun and this year’s theme is asking people with learning disabilities to remember their ‘first times’.
The idea behind this year’s Learning Disability Week theme is that while everyone imagines the same special first experiences – whether that is first love, job or day a school – someone with a learning disability may face extra challenges in order to experience the same life changing firsts as everyone else. For example, parents with a learning disability are 50 times more likely to have their children taken into care, and just 7% of people with a learning disability are in paid employment, despite 65% wanting a job.
Learning Disability Week, which is run by learning disability charity Mencap, will aim to celebrate the people who overcome adversity, prejudice and ignorance to experience their incredible firsts.
Each day of Learning Disability Week will be dedicated to a different first life experience. All the stories Mencap receive will be displayed on its website and social media channels. The aim is to create a library specifically for people with a learning disability to share their own stories, which may never have been heard before.
Each day Mencap will be sharing some of the stories it has received on the following themes:
• Your first day at school – Monday
• Your first love – Tuesday
• Your first job – Wednesday
• Your first time voting – Thursday
• Your first home – Friday
• Your first time as a parent – Saturday
• Your first grey hair – Sunday.
To get involved with Learning Disability Week Mencap are asking people with a learning disability to:
• Share their stories on Twitter (@mencap_charity) using the hashtag #LDWeek14
• Post their tales on its Facebook page
• Write their own blog about their first-time experiences
• Post a photo online that represents one of their firsts.
In addition, thanks to Mencap, every day this week the Learning Disability Today website will be running a guest blog on a specific first time. In today’s blog, parent carer Jane Raca remembers her son James’ first day at school.
Mencap’s chief executive, Jan Tregelles, said: “Mencap believes in a world where people with a learning disability, their families and carers have the same opportunities throughout every stage of their lives – and the same life-changing events as everyone else. This Learning Disability Week is all about giving people with a learning disability a platform to tell their story, and for people to realise that we all have the same hopes and dreams in life. But we don’t all have the same opportunities to fulfil them.”
Mencap celebrity ambassador Ty Glaser, who has a younger sister, Esme (both pictured), who has Down’s syndrome, added: “I can remember the fear and nerves I felt before the opening night of the first professional play I took the lead in. Regardless of whether you have a learning disability or not we all go through the same feelings of terror and excitement when experiencing those memorable first times. However, people with a learning disability don’t often get to tell these stories and it is for this reason I am delighted to support Mencap’s Learning Disability Week, and will be encouraging my sister Esmé to share some of her stories too.”