I don’t let my Cerebral Palsy intimidate me
Andrew is Dundee’s youngest ambassador, the Founder of Dundee Culture and he has hemiplegia which is a form of Cerebral Palsy (CP).
“Your son will never walk or talk.”
These are words that no parent wants to hear but, unfortunately my parents did. I was born with hemiplegia which paralyses one side of the body.
When I was a baby, my granddad noticed my left hand looked a bit odd and he advised my parents to check everything was all right. Doctors told my parents I would never ever be able to walk or talk and I would likely be in a wheelchair for my entire life.
Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case.
As I developed, I showed signs I wouldn’t always be in a wheelchair. I was able to do my own thing. I went to school with some support but was able to communicate with classmates. Yet, growing up with Cerebral Palsy hasn’t been easy. At school I was bullied because of CP. This is something I never brought up because I found it distressing to talk about. Some of my classmates would come up to me, bring their left hand out and slap it with their right hand, mocking my disability.
Thankfully these dark days are behind me. Daily life is normal, although there can be struggles as I have other disabilities. These including Autism, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia and Epilepsy. Due to my Cerebral Palsy, sometimes I must put things down before opening windows and doors as I can’t do that with my other hand. Occasionally, I can feel disgusted, embarrassed and ashamed for having this condition. However, I rarely bring up my disabilities and I try not to let them intimidate me.
Having other disabilities alongside my CP doesn’t really affect me as much in my day-to-day life, but can times get in the way. With Autism, I can react quickly and sometimes get frustrated when things don’t go the way I plan. My Dyslexia can mean I get words mixed when typing and I often miss out words when texting or typing as well. I found that my Dyscalculia was more of an issue in my school years, but it doesn’t affect me as much now. With epilepsy, I must take two pills in the morning and one at night to make sure no seizures occur. But as always, they don’t get in the way of my life.
There are many things I aspired to be when I was a kid, but there’s one dream that turned into reality and has led to so many successes and achievements. When I was 12 years old, I started a Facebook page called Dundee Culture to support Dundee’s UK City of Culture bid. I have a real love and passion for my home city. The official bid team saw what I created and thought it was a university project! I became part of the bid team and although Dundee sadly lost to Hull, that was the beginning of my journey.
From the work I did to help promote and spread awareness of Dundee, I went on to become the youngest ever ambassador for the city. I held the Queen’s Baton ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and was named by Digital Leaders as one of the top youngest digital leaders in the United Kingdom.
Dundee Culture has helped me make a name for myself. It’s a social media brand which has over 20,000 fans, over 10 million people have visited Dundee Culture from 71 different countries and it’s been endorsed by notable figures such as the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.
I’m surprised by what I’ve achieved in my life so far and I feel very lucky to have been recognised for it. I’ll soon be opening a new studio to house Dundee Culture – my passion project which has become an up and running business. This is the next step on my journey.
I never dreamed what I started off doing would become this big. Having support from Dundee Culture fans is my driving force. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Before I finish, there is one last thing I want to say.
If you’re a disabled person, don’t let barriers stop you from what you want to do. Break down those barriers and do what you want to do. You can achieve anything, nothing is impossible. Don’t let anyone hold you back and tell you any different.
What would you say is your biggest achievement? Let us know in the comments below!