The Unbreakables – positive messaging around disability
Posted by: Gemma Keogh | 11.08.15

The highs and lows of relationships, the thrill of going to the pub and out partying, and thoughts about what job you will do when you leave college are all typical concerns for teenagers across the country. The students of National Star College in Gloucestershire are no different, except that they have disabilities and have a BBC3 camera crew following them around recording their moving, inspiring and sometimes hilarious experiences.

The documentary is part of the Defying the Labels series and this three-parter has done just that. The programme has reached out to new audiences who want inclusivity and to share in the lives of the students.

Of course discrimination still exists but there is a growing appetite for news and information about those living with physical and mental disabilities. People want to open up and talk, they want to ask questions and to find out what it is like to lead a life that is different to theirs.

A father of one of the college’s students sums it up perfectly. These young men and women go through so much (at the point in filming his son is going through yet another major operation) but they never complain. We all have stuff that we grumble about but they never do. It’s truly inspiring and leaves us wondering why aren’t we more like that?

The London 2012 ParaOlympics was a very public display of this acceptance and enthusiasm. The nation celebrated athletes whom, although training as hard and performing as successfully as their able bodied counterparts, had never before seen this level of support.

It’s an eagerness that has steadily been growing ever since then and with the ongoing production of content as insightful and compelling as The Unbreakables then it will continue to do so.

Within the social care sector, providers have often shied away from sharing news about their residents, due to concerns about privacy and dignity, but things are changing and if there was ever a time to tell the story of your residents then it is now.

As a sector we know that care doesn’t stop at the provision of medical support it also involves advocacy and standing up for the rights of those that use our services. The students at National Star College in Gloucestershire wanted people to know what they went through and what hardships they overcame, but most of all they wanted people to know that they were just like them – and the best way to do that is to show what happens on a day-to-day basis.

You can start small. Create a newsletter or update your website’s news page sharing photos of recent events.

You can think big and empower your students or residents to tell their stories in their own words through video. Written, produced and edited by them.

Whichever way you choose you just need to tell their story, the audience is willing and waiting and the time is now.