A Ballymoney man has created a film to challenge the ‘negative and patronising’ attitudes people display towards those with learning difficulties.
Stefan Clarke, 21, who has learning disabilities, developed the programme after he went to buy something and the shop-keeper served his companion instead.
In the film he has made with Fixers – the charity which gives young people a voice - Stefan explains how he wants to be treated like everyone else.
You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXeNKQu7H48
He explained: “My campaign is about challenging the negative and patronising attitudes people often display towards people with learning disabilities. I want people to know that I’m more than capable. They shouldn’t make assumptions.”
Stefan made the film with friends from a community support group who also report being treated differently. It shows Stefan buying a candle and being spoken to in a condescending way by the shop assistant.
He continued: “Often when we are out and about in the local community, in shops, on public transport and so on we are viewed with suspicion, avoided or patronised.
“The example in the film of being patronised in the shop by a shop keeper is just one real life example of how I and others in the group have been treated poorly by people. We hope this will challenge people watching it to think about how they engage with others.
“People need to know that they shouldn’t talk down to us or deal directly with a support worker instead of us when they interact with us.”
Stefan and the group plan to share the film online and hope it makes people aware of how much they’re capable of doing.
He added: “We want to show that although there are things that we can’t do, there are plenty of things that we can, and do, do well. We’re just like everybody else - we are active citizens involved in things like recycling projects, working as shop assistants, and being friends. We are playing our part in society – just like everybody else.
“I want people to know that I am more than capable and they shouldn’t make assumptions about me.”
Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.
The charity has helped more than 19,000 youngsters across the UK to have a voice in their community on issues such as cyber-bullying, self-harm, suicide or transphobia.
For more information or to make a donation to fund more Fixer projects, visit www.fixers.org.uk