What Disability Pride Month means to Gem Turner

What is Disability Pride Month?

If you didn’t already know, July is Disability Pride Month. To people who don’t hang around with disabled people, it may seem strange to celebrate such a thing. And of course, I can only speak from my point of view. But, I find it empowering to celebrate the very identity that makes me, me. Disability Pride Month originated in America in 1990 after the ADA (American Disabilities Act) was passed. It’s used to raise awareness, highlight barriers and celebrate each other. It has its own flag with the colours each representing different aspects of disability.

Why do I celebrate it?

As I said, although at first it might seem unusual, I do think it’s important to celebrate. To me, although we’re getting better in some ways - the world just doesn’t naturally think about disabled people. Everywhere I go, I have to check the accessibility. Can I get in? Will there be facilities for me? Do I need to bring someone with me? And that’s just my everyday thoughts.

There’s also the people and attitude side of disability, tackling the constant stereotypes we receive. People will feel sorry for me for literally sitting down. Or they will assume I have a hard life. Of course, I have my bad days like everyone - but it can be tiring to constantly reassure people I’m “actually okay”. It also doesn’t give room for me to share the real parts without the worry that it’s feeding into this stereotypical narrative. This can be somewhat tiring, depending on my mood. I don’t always want to be in “entertaining mode” to make people feel comfortable around me.

That’s why I like to document my life. The good, the bad and the plain boring. To show disabled people doesn't have to be extraordinary. We’re just people who have Netflix recommendations, favourite TV shows and even dating icks (I could do a whole other blog on that…).

What do I hope for in the future?

I think months like this are important to showcase what we’ve achieved so far, but also what we strive for in the future. I’d love to be able to go out, without having to constantly check every detail. I’d love accessibility to be embedded into everyday practices so disabled people didn’t have to ask permission to take part in society. Or I’d love children to see disabled people on and offline more and it be an everyday expectation and not a surprise. Disability to me means adapting our environment to be as inclusive as possible. A great example of this is driving my car. Yes, I do it a “different way” to most using hand controls - but, I drive from A - B smoothly just like everyone else.

I want people to celebrate others and recognise the barriers, working together to find solutions. That’s why months like Disability Pride is important, to learn, share and be allies to one another.

So, if you didn’t know about Disability Pride Month, give this a share to spread the word!

Gem Turner & Her Story

We have been following the driving journey of our good friend Gem Turner for a few years now as she has learned to thrive on the roads as a disabled driver. Gem is a wheelchair user from West Yorkshire who, in 2020 at only 27 years old, applied to Motability and to buy a car, and hasn't looked back since! We have been following her journey every step of the way and were absolutely over the moon to find out back in March this year that Gem had passed here driving test first time and was able to finally get out and enjoy the freedom that comes with driving. Gem has been sharing her journey at every step of the way, from passing her test to going through all the tips for disabled drivers and what she loves about being able to drive. It's stories like Gems that make us so proud here at Peoples Ford to be able to offer driving support to those who need it through the Motability Scheme.

The Motability Scheme began way back in 1978 and ever since has been helping people like Gem enjoy the freedom that comes with driving by providing those with disabilities a wide range of high-quality, adapted cars. Ford was one of the main car manufacturers to become involved in the scheme, aiming to produce affordable cars that are safe and comfortable to use for hundreds of drivers. Gem is just one driver who has been able to take advantage of this fantastic scheme that continues to help people across the country every single day. Now that July has arrived, disabled drivers like Gem have began celebrating a very important landmark - Disability Pride Month. This is a time of year where people from all different kinds of backgrounds, with varying disabilities, celebrate what makes them who they are. Gem has once again very kindly agreed to share her side of things on another topic, this time sharing what this month means to her and how she hopes it can have a positive impact on the future. Read all about Disability Pride Month & what it means to Gem below.

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