A student from Chorley has made a film challenging disability stigma and discrimination she faces.
Emma Riley, who has autism and ADHD, wants to show what it’s like to deal with prejudice in schools and workplaces.
Along with a group of young people from Lancashire she wants to educate people about disabilities in the hope that the film will challenge stereotypes.
The film was made with Fixers – a charity which gives young people a voice to work towards changing attitudes – and shows different scenarios in schools and the workplace where the young people have been discriminated against.
It starts with young people saying: “Look at me. What do you see?
“One of the worst things about having a disability is that people see it before they see you.”
Emma was diagnosed with autism and ADHD when she was about seven.
She said: “Primary school was difficult – teachers didn’t really understand why I was behaving the way I was and would just tell me to be quiet or move me out of class as soon as possible without asking me what was wrong. One said I was ‘unteachable’ and that really hurt.
“I would get very distracted in lessons if there was too much noise. I would get frustrated and start shouting and then get kicked out.”
The 19-year-old, who is now studying education at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), added: “Some young people in the group have been bullied.
“People have picked on them - saying nasty words, hurting them and texting them horrible things. Others have struggled to find jobs.
“A lack of understanding causes people with disabilities to be discriminated against because they’re different.
“We hope that people watch our film and see what it’s like for us, and make changes. We want to get rid of discrimination and stigma.”
The film was launched at a workshop in Lancashire and was attended by 45 people.
The event brought together young people with special educational needs and disabilities, their parents, carers and people who deliver services to them.
One visiter said: “This is such a powerful film, it’s really thought provoking.”
Mariam Ahmed, young person’s coordinator at Fixers, said the film was shown to the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield OBE, and the charity Barnardo’s, who praised it.
“They will be using the film to raise awareness on the issue at various events and meetings they go to, with schools, colleges, councils and government,” she said.
“The development in Emma’s self-esteem has been amazing.
“She has been able to get other young people involved in discussions and has been the spokesperson of the group.”
To watch the film go to youtube.com/watch?v=x7lN-YxgiEM