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Meet Joy, our new blogger

By Disability, My story No Comments

Joy and her daughter.I’ve always heard that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. But I also heard that it is the most rewarding.

Now that I am a parent myself I can honestly say that what I had heard was so true.

My name is Joy and I am a single, sexy, mother of one. I also happen to have a severe visual impairment which basically means I am totally blind in my right eye and have a very small amount of vision in my left eye, with the help of sone very thick and flowery  glasses.

Having a visual Impairment also means I can’t see hot guys walking past me on the street which is really annoying but hey, I guess there are worse things going on in the world!

When I was first asked to do a blog about parenting I didn’t want it to feel like a lesson on how to be a “good parent” because let’s face it only our children can make that decision when they grow up.

So what I want to do is simply share my journey and hopefully reduce negative stereotypes of parents with disabilities and give an insight into the difficulties most parents face, but also give some kind of reassurance to other blind and partially sighted woman who may not have experienced motherhood yet.

I’m going to talk about the aspects of parenthood that have had the biggest impact on me and I’m going to start from the very beginning. Everything from My pregnancy and labour, the fear of becoming a mother, the support I have had, travelling with a baby and a cane, keeping up with a toddler, and my thoughts on the future.

Currently, my daughter Janelle is 3 years old and she loves singing, dancing, Peppa Pig, writing on my walls, stealing my lipsticks and pretending to be a police officer!

She is the single most important thing in my life and despite all of her tantrums and sulking when I don’t give her chocolate, she is the only light in my life.

Why all young people should have disability awareness training delivered by disabled people

By Disability No Comments

Last week my fellow trainer Zoe and I had the pleasure of spending the day at Sir William Borlase Grammar School delivering workshops as part of their Year 7 Disability awareness day.   We frequently deliver workshops for schools but one of the things that really stood out about the day was the number of questions the young people wanted to ask.   They took part in some games and activities but we ended up not doing everything that we had planned simply because once the questions started, they just didn’t stop. We were delighted.   After the session on the slow drive around the M25 I had plenty of time to reflect on the day.

I have lost count the number of times a child has stared at me when I have been out with friends and using British Sign Language. When this happens usually a parent pulls them away and tells them it’s rude to stare before I have chance to say anything.  Children are curious about the world in which they live and particularly when they see something new.  I have been asked by children numerous times what’s that thing behind my ear (my cochlear implant).   The difficulty arises when children are not encouraged to ask questions and find out about disability (in a positive and appropriate way) and instead are told it’s rude.  The child often sees the embarrassment that their parent displays and remember it.  This feeds into the ‘fear factor’ that as a charity we speak about; where people are awkward around disabled people because they worry about saying or doing the wrong thing.

Having the opportunity to meet disabled people enables children and young people the chance to see that we are just like everyone else and that there is no need to feel awkward around us.  Giving them the opportunity to ask questions in a safe and appropriate environment demystifies disability and can only help to remove that fear factor.

Children and young people are the next generation.  If we can reduce that fear factor, then this in turn will help to reduce the barriers that disabled people face in terms of attitude and communication.  Remember that we will only be an inclusive and accessible society once attitudes are changed.  The more children that have workshops and positive interactions with disabled people the quicker this will happen.

I would like to say well done to Sir William Borlase Grammar school for valuing diversity and inclusion and for arranging such a great day!

A message to all parents of babies with a stoma

By Disability No Comments

I never thought I would go through the trauma of having a baby in intensive care, let alone him having major surgery at 2 days old. Our little boy Felix had been born without an anus (Imperforate Anus) and quite frankly, having never realised that could be a possibility, we thought that his outlook was bleak. However, we were told he would have surgery to create a stoma and if successful, would be able to live a (relatively) normal life. Having no idea what a stoma was, we learnt it would be an external opening of his bowel onto the abdominal wall where his output (poo) would then leave his body into a collection pouch (colostomy bag). **insert wide-eyed emoji here**

I can tell you that there were a hell of a lot of things to get our heads around and a lot of tears in the process. While all the other mums I knew from prenatal classes were snuggling with their newborns in bed and breastfeeding, we were staring at Felix through plastic into his little incubator, hooked up to lots of monitors, on drips, unable to even give him a cuddle, wondering if we would be able to cope with seeing his insides stitched to his outsides!

But after his surgery and a week to get some of his strength back, we were able to have a few cuddles and start to learn how to change his colostomy bag. We had a crash course in stoma products from our stoma nurse and was told that unfortunately “there’s not one size fits all” and “it’s whatever works for you”. Well, I can tell you, in those first weeks, nothing was working for us. Felix had raw, excoriated skin and the bags wouldn’t stick or stay on at all. We felt completely hopeless when, at every bag change, Felix would scream in discomfort and the products we were using didn’t seem fit for purpose. The adhesive remover wipes would dry out in a second before you could get the bit of the bag off that hadn’t peeled away already, the bags themselves had to be adult in size due to the placement of the two stoma holes and so took up the whole of his tummy, and none of the adhesive wipes/sprays/pastes were doing anything to keep the bag on.

As a parent you feel horrific as you’re causing your child pain by not being able to figure out what to do; you feel so torn, on one hand, you want to crawl into a small dark hole and cry for eternity, and on the other, fight and research like crazy until you figure out a solution. We did the former for about five minutes until we snapped out of it and jumped onto Google to see if anyone was experiencing the same thing. 
Amazingly, people were coming up against the same problems, and even more amazingly, people were solving them! We went from feeling very lonely to realising that although we were on a different parenting path to most, there were so many families in the same situation and struggling with the same things as we were. The gamechanger was unbelievably a hairdryer of all things! 
These are my tips for any parents that are going through the trauma of getting a colostomy bag to stay on your child, or for that matter yourself if you have a stoma…

In terms of removing the bags, try and get hold of the Appeel Adhesive Remover Foam Applicators rather than the wipes as the wipes just dry out in seconds, failing that, use a cotton bud in conjunction with the Appeel Adhesive Remover Spray. Buy a good pair of curved nail scissors, this will help to cut the holes for the bags rather than trying to use straight blades.
On colostomy bags, the sticky adhesive just isn’t quite sticky enough for a young baby that likes to wriggle! Using a hairdryer to heat it up enough to become stickier was the first tip we learnt (obviously not too hot that it would burn their skin) If you’re in hospital and can’t find a hairdryer, a hot lightbulb comes a close second. There are stoma powders/pastes/putty-like barriers to fit around the stoma, but none of these really worked for us. We found layering sprays of the 3M protective barrier solution with a few seconds in between each one made the surface more adhesive, and because it also protected the skin, it was really all we felt we needed.
If you find things are still not sticking and you’ve got a situation of a healing wound from the surgery or very excoriated skin, try using something called Coloplast Protective Sheet. I had never seen the protective sheet used on a stoma before and never seen anyone write about using it on stomas online, but honestly it’s the stuff stoma miracles are made of!

We came across the protective sheeting when Felix had his second stoma created (yep, that’s right! second one)!
 Felix had a stoma reversal when he was just over a year old but it didn’t unfortunately quite go to plan. After we came home from the hospital, he got a leak internally and developed sepsis. We had a dangerously sick boy and he had to be rushed into hospital for surgery to save his life. The surgeons had to create a new stoma further up in the bowel, which meant a whole new opening and wound to get used to and a month in the hospital again trying to figure out how to get the bags to stick as our previous method just wasn’t cutting it.

We were so proud of the fact that with his stoma the first time around, the skin never broke down after we got him home and it looked in great condition, this time around, it broke down within days and we were left scratching our heads as to what to do. It turned out the stoma nurses had just been doing some training on a new product for open wounds called Coloplast Protective Sheet. This worked so well on Felix’s very damaged skin.
 This time, we only used a little stoma powder in the parts where his wound had opened up from the surgery and then cut a circular shape from the protective sheet around the stoma with holes to fit it through snugly, stuck it down and then heated up the bag and popped it on top. It had about a 99% success rate and totally changed our lives! We also used Morform sachets in the bag to help the output to thicken so that leaks weren’t so much of a concern. This is especially important if you have an ileostomy as the output will be much more liquid.

To anyone who has a child with a stoma or if you’re someone just getting used to one of your own, don’t give up if you feel hopeless trying to find the most comfortable, easy solution. It really is like the stoma nurses say, (annoyingly), “it’s whatever works for you”, and although that might seem really unhelpful at the time, it is kind of true. You will find a solution. There are so many products out there, contact companies that make stoma products and ask for every free sample going, try every paste/spray/wipe/putty/bag out there and see which one, quite literally, sticks!

Top Tips for using the correct terminology

By Disability, Top tips No Comments

One of the questions we are asked the most at Enhance the UK is ‘How do I refer to a disabled person without offending them?’ In today’s society, many of us are terrified of offending or patronising others, and rightly so! But, there’s nothing worse than letting your communication fear get in the way of talking to disabled people so much that you end up not conversing at all! So, here are our top tips for using the correct terminology when communicating with disabled people:

  1. Ask them first.

It’s unlikely that you will ever need to know about someone’s impairment or condition, unless you are a medical professional, work in a school or are reporting an incident. But if you do need to know the specifics for any reason, don’t guess! Politely and calmly ask the disabled person in question how to best describe their impairment. That way, you’ve put them in control of the situation without assuming or shying away from the issue at hand.

  1. Idioms are OK

People also get hung up on using everyday sayings around disabled people. Saying ‘see you later’ to a blind person or ‘walk this way’ to a wheelchair user is absolutely fine! In fact, the worst thing you can possibly do is stumble over your words, feel embarrassed and end up not chatting at all!

  1. It’s all about the intention

We all slip up sometimes and say the wrong thing, and let’s be honest, disabled people are used to non-disabled people feeling a little awkward around them (unfortunately). But, if your motives come from a good place, then that’s half the battle.

For more information, get in touch with us by visiting or tweeting us @enhancetheuk



a group of people participating in wheelchair yoga

From Wheelchair Basketball To Strictly Wheelchair Dancing: Disability Sports In All Forms.

By Disability, Lifestyle No Comments
Photo provided by

As a disabled person who is not particularly athletic, the phrase ‘disability sport’ often fills me with a little dread. I am never going to be as incredibly sporty and successful as Hannah Cockroft, the gold-winning wheelchair racer, or swimming’s sweetheart Ellie Simmonds. I used to play wheelchair basketball, and absolutely adored the social side of the sport as well as the opportunity to improve my health and fitness, and realise my truly competitive side! But, there came a time where training did not fit into my working schedule, especially with my travelling commitments as a writer for Lonely Planet. So, I gave it up, watched local tournaments and huge events like the Paralympics completely in awe, but from afar, and decided that maybe disability sport just was not for me…

…How wrong that perception of mine turned out to be! There are so many ways those with disabilities can continue to be conscious of their health, work on self-improvement and have fun along the way without quite the same time and effort it takes to be part of a winning, competitive sporting side. Here are just a few of those ways:

Wheelchair Yoga

Like with most exercise, the benefits of wheelchair yoga really are surprising. As you probably expected, your flexibility is likely to improve and you may well become stronger pretty quickly, but also expect benefits of a better sleep, less stress and anxiety in your everyday life, and a clearer mental connection with what is going on around you. Who wouldn’t want any of these things in our fast and busy lives?

Top Three Wheelchair Yoga Poses

These excellent wheelchair yoga poses will hopefully have you feeling connected and strengthened in no time, each one working a different part of your body. Thanks to for their wisdom.

Cat Pose

  1. Grip your chair or place your hands on your thighs
  2. Exhale as you round your upper body forward, dropping your chin toward your chest, arching your spine like a cat
  3. Hold in this position for a few deep breathsCow Pose (front of body-opener)

Eagle Pose

  1. Inhale and lift your arms
  2. Exhale and cross your arms at the elbows so your hands are back-to-back
  3. Hold in this position as you continue to breathe for 20-30 seconds

Hip Stretch

  1. Inhale, lift one leg and cross it over the other
  2. If you want a deeper stretch and you have good trunk stability, exhale and lean forward from your hips
  3. Continue to breathe as you hold the stretch for 3-5 breaths
  4. Gently release your leg and move to stretch the other side

Wheelchair Dancing

For some reason, the thought of dancing in my wheelchair is also something that has made me feel pretty nervous and un-coordinated in the past! But most of us like to get our groove on, right?!

Wheelchair Dancing (especially ballroom dancing) may be right up your street if you have a partner who is either non-disabled or also a wheelchair user. For those of us with disabilities, it can often prove pretty tricky to get active with our partners and find something that we can both do, are good at and will enjoy. Wheelchair dancing can be taken at the couple’s one pace, and there is equal elegance from both sides! It is an opportunity to get physically close, whilst having a giggle and meeting other people in the same, or similar, situations. A good middle ground between an individual and a group sport, and a chilled or exhausting activity, wheelchair dancing might just be the sport for you.

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