Disability Awareness Week commenced on 18 April 2016 at Newcastle University which saw a range of events take place including interactive workshops, a sign language course, and sporting events such as goalball.
There were also a guest speaker from Paralympian Steven Miller MBE and Adam Foster, the Chairman of the Newcastle Fibromylagia Asociation Support Group.
Various stalls were set up outside the Student Union designed to educate and raise the awareness of disabilities, whether it be physical or mental. In particular, The Association of Young People with ME (AYME) is a charity that works closely with Newcastle University to provide support to those aged up to 25 years old who suffer from the condition.
Sheila Carruthers, a national support worker at AYME, said, “ME is a condition where sufferers have chronic fatigue. Newcastle University is the only university that provides support groups to students that suffer from ME. The level of service is excellent as part of the care they provide includes transfers between university and student accommodation, which may be catered according to their individual needs. Support can be one-on-one and the university may also make exam concessions.”
Other charities that set up information stalls were Type 1 Kidz, which supports young people aged up to 25 years that live with Type 1 diabetes in the North East, and Newcastle Carers.
Claire Briston, a young adult carer support assistant, said, “There is an enormous amount of pressure on students who have caring responsibilities. It is difficult to juggle an education with caring for another person, whether it is a family or a friend. A study conducted by The University of Nottingham found that carer students were four times more likely to drop out while 45 percent of carer students developed mental health issues themselves.”
“We have a small fund which entitles a carer to spend the grant as they please. Often a carer forgets about their own individual needs so this money rewards them for their hard work”, Briston continues.
Type 1 Kidz works alongside Newcastle University, NHS England, and other organisations. Chloe Brown, a volunteer, said, “We advocate the importance of Simply Telehealth which is a text message service that reminds a person to inject themselves with insulin or monitor their sugar levels. It may be difficult for students who have moved away from home, in particular, as they are surrounded by a drinking culture. They have to be extra cautionary as alcohol adjusts blood sugar levels.”
“The charity also organises social activities whereby young people with diabetes can meet with others”, Brown continued.
Type 1 Kidz was awarded second place in the Bright Ideas in Health Awards for service improvement.
The Paralympian Steve Miller MBE came to Newcastle University on Thursday 21st April to speak exclusively about his condition and his experience of growing up with cerebral palsy.
Miller was awarded an MBE in January 2016 for his services in sport. He is a triple Paralympian Gold Medallist, specialising in club throw which is the equivalent to javelin. Miller has competed in the Paralympic Games in Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, and London 2012 which he described as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Miller said, “The proudest moment of my career was in the Beijing 2008 games. I jumped from fourth position to second. I wasn’t prepared to go home without a medal.”
Miller has won over twenty five medals competing internationally and is the World Record Holder from 1997 – 2008. Speaking about his life Miller said, “I was born in Newcastle and studied for a degree at Northumbria University who were very accommodating to my condition.”
Adam Foster provided an informative speech about his pain management programmes for those suffering with Fibromyalgia, Ehlers-Danros syndrome, and ME. Foster said, “I was involved in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2009 while I was serving in the army. Soon after I left as it was no longer right for me, however I developed spinal scar tissue which meant that I was constantly in chronic pain. After trying out various methods, I found that a way to cope with the pain which inspired me to help others in a similar situation.”