We reflect on another remarkable year of 2023, marked by the release of #CerebralPalsyAndMe about my experiences living with Cerebral Palsy. Where I invite everyone into my world of disability whilst chronicling my journey of early battles, trials, achievements, and profound lessons learned along the way. Through the power of storytelling, this book has given me a voice where I can tell my story and another outlet to inspire, educate others, and make a difference. Still, it has also spurred me to accelerate my journey of finally finding it deep down inside to accept myself as disabled.
2023: The Milestones:-
Early feedback since the publication of my Autobiography: The reviews and feedback I have received since launching "Cerebral Palsy And Me" on 6th October has been nothing short of incredible. From receiving some fantastic five-star reviews, being stopped in the street by random people telling me they are in the middle of reading the book and are enjoying being educated through the eyes of someone living with disabilities. Friends telling me they have discovered and learned new things about me after many years of knowing me, to receiving heartfelt messages from parents with disabled children thanking me for inspiring them, raising awareness and challenging misconceptions about all kinds of disabilities through sharing the realities and sparking conversations that challenge societal norms and stereotypes whilst we unite as we continue to advocate for greater understanding, support and opportunities for individuals with cerebral palsy.
My children's books continue to educate about disability, acceptance and friendship: In my autobiography, I discuss how much I have learnt about authorship over the last few years, and I think publishing both my children's books amid a pandemic with Clare Thomas mentoring me throughout the whole process strengthened my knowledge of how tough it is becoming a fully fledged writer and author. I now know that the journey is a continuous one. It's a marathon and not a sprint. I have been incredibly lucky to have someone like Clare take me through such a journey and allow me to continue my journey solo. I will be forever thankful. Not everyone gets these opportunities. Knowing that my true story, #MaxAndTheMagicWish, is showing children and people of all ages that it is okay to be accepted as you are and be accepting of others and seeing the fantastic reviews is incredibly heartwarming. To also see that my second children's book, #PaddyThePolarBearTeddy, a magical space adventure story about friendship, courage and wisdom, is also standing alone as a story that is capturing the inspiration and minds of lots of children and teenagers is so exciting.
Continuing to get creative with #TheWordGrooveCollective: who are an exciting songwriting team led by songwriter/producer Clary Saddler (she/her) and lyricist Gavin Clifton, aka the Disabled Writer (he/him). In addition, we often collaborate with Mr X (he/him), a non-verbal songwriter/musician with quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. The collective includes a mix of disabled and non-disabled creatives, writing music for various briefs using unique methods such as eyegaze and switch technology. We aim to show the music industry that differences can be overcome by combining traditional songwriting methods with specialist technology. We are also exploring ways Artificial Intelligence can make the songwriting process more inclusive for everyone by using adaptive interfaces, augmented music creation, and assisting in audio creation and production for people with disabilities. This year, we have collaborated on writing songs for many music briefs to pitch to Eurovision, record labels, singers and TV and Film.
Growing my social media presence: In today's digital age, social media has become an essential tool for writers and authors, allowing them to build an online community of readers amongst a vast audience. Sharing their work and engaging with readers globally helping them to niche down and build a personal brand, sharing their writing journey whilst developing a distinctive persona. It also allows writers and authors to engage and connect with like-minded people like fellow authors, writing communities and fostering valuable connections, allowing them to stay informed and inspired, getting valuable feedback from their readers through marketing and promotion, gaining the trust of their communities, leading to them sharing reviews, book excerpts, and insights. It's so pleasing to now watch my #Tiktok account beginning to grow into an inclusive online community with almost 20,000 followers, and my content is getting seen and liked by lots of people along with me now being able to showcase my books to people Worldwide on my live-streams is so exciting.
Becoming Events Coordinator for See No Bounds Get Connected Inclusively: See No Bounds is an online global brand and business network, a hub of activities and informative resources, with the aim of breaking down the barriers of business founded by Jamie and Charlott McAnsh. I met them both through attending various other networking events and now through our different journies of disability and following the successful publication of "Cerebral Palsy And Me," Jamie and Charlott approached me asking if I would like to join the See No Bounds Get Connected Inclusively Network as the Events Coordinator assisting host, Louise Hunt Skelley, who is a British Wheelchair Tennis Player and Commentator, Paralympian, Ambassador and Motivational Speaker— it's a role which I have now accepted and am undertaking. https://seenobounds.co.uk/. Our Get Connected Inclusively meetings are held online on the first Tuesday of every month. It's great to see that these meetings are starting to attract a mixture of businesses and people within the disabled community who are committed to fostering a more accessible and inclusive society by uniting to find ways we can endeavour to remove barriers disabled people face daily.
Looking back on 2023, were the stars beginning to align and by the way it turned out, did everything I have done this year begin to take shape way back at the beginning of the Covid pandemic when the idea of writing about my experiences of living with cerebral palsy came about in a previous meeting with Clare Thomas? Has it all been some fated plan by some guardian angel? Who knows? But I know that publishing an autobiography has revigorated me as a person.
Using my own words and unfiltered narrative to tell you of the many different experiences I've faced while navigating through life with cerebral palsy and a speech Impediment. Talking about the highs and lows, the tears and laughter, and the determination that is helping me to accept myself as a disabled person and redefine what it means to be seen as a beacon of hope for others facing the same challenges has made me start to become more happy and confident. Who would have thought a few years ago I would now be a confident social media influencer, conducting online Zoom meetings and disability awareness networking events by finding innovative ways to communicate using augmented and alternative communication and going to face-to-face events as an author without help from the likes of Clare for my parents?
All of this is now beginning to open up more inclusive opportunities for me. If I can use these opportunities to push and advocate for a more inclusive and accessible landscape for everyone by showing others with disabilities, and especially parents with children with disabilities, that with a determined mindset, although having disabilities, even though you sometimes may need to find your limitations and manage expectations, you can find ways to follow your dreams and aspirations even though our journies may turn out a little different to others. Remember, we must never let our disabilities define our destinies; they are shaped by our own unique challenges and how we find ways to overcome them, fuelled by our willingness to become the best people we can and succeed.
I can't wait to learn what 2024 has waiting in the wings,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,