Paralympian Stephen Cooper to join Bedford Disability Awareness Week

Bedford Disability Awareness Week (BDAW)

Paralympian Stephen Cooper will be at Bedford Disability Awareness Week (BDAW) next week (21 September), which aims to help keep the challenges of disabled people in everyone’s minds.

The event, at The Higgins, Bedford, runs until 25 September and will counter myths around disabilities, highlight charities that work with disabled people, and also speak to members of Bedford’s disabled community.

Multiple free events are also taking place, open to both disabled and able-bodied people. Some will give people a chance to experience the challenges of certain disabilities themselves.

“We are going to have an experience table that will have glasses that simulate various sight conditions, where they can experience hearing impairment and also do daily tasks with one hand,” says co-organiser Laura Peggs.

“They’ll also feel what it’s like to be pushed in a wheelchair, without any control themselves”

Stephen Cooper who won a bronze medal in the T38 800m and a silver medal as part of the 4x100m team in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, is also be taking part.

He’ll be coming along on Friday (24 Sep) to share his own story to help people see a different side to disabilities.

“It is very important to communicate some very inspiring stories with the able-bodied community,” said Laura.

“And also just make them more aware of what it’s like to live on a day-to-day basis with challenges.

Events open to all

BDAW also aims to give people a chance to network and build relationships across different communities with several creative events and talks too.

  • 21 September, Tuesday: Stained Glass Workshop (12 pm-4 pm)
  • 22 September, Wednesday: Transitions Talk (1 pm-3 pm)
  • 23 September, Thursday: Living it up (1:30pm-2:30pm)
  • 24 September, Friday: Brushstrokes (2 pm-4 pm)
  • 24 September, Friday: Stephen Cooper (TBC)
  • 25 September, Saturday: Disability into the future (all day)

You can book online for any of the events via The Higgins, Bedford by calling 01234 718618.

While BDAW is designed to be a fun and informal way of getting to know the challenges faced by the disabled community, the organisers hope visitors will leave with a different perspective.

“We just want people to be disabled aware,” added Laura. “We want people to think about how businesses can support disabled people to live how they want to live”

Co-organiser Jessica Grugeon, says while this is the first BDAW event of its kind, they want it to grow. “We want it to build upon itself each year and get stronger. This is just the beginning,” she said.

And they’ll be asking people where they’d like to take BDAW in the future via satisfaction surveys.

“We hope to secure funding, have a permanent centre, and keep the momentum going,” added Laura.

To find out more about BDAW and their mission, and how you can get involved or support them, visit their Facebook page.

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