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Paralympic medal winner and charity CEO join students for International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Barking & Dagenham College students with Toby Hewson and Lucy Shuker

Paralympic medal winner and charity CEO join students for International Day of Persons with Disabilities

4 December 2013

Lucy Shuker, Paralympic Bronze medal winner and Toby Hewson, founder and CEO of the charity JustDifferent joined students at Barking & Dagenham College today as part of the College’s events to highlight International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an annual event, first set up by the UN General Assembly in 1992, to draw attention to the issues that affect people with disabilities.

At Barking & Dagenham College, a packed audience of over 100 students listened intently to Lucy and Toby. Toby, who has cerebral palsy and uses a communication aid called a pathfinder to communicate, kept students entertained with his talk, telling them that anyone can be a role model, just by carrying on with everyday life. He stressed to students that they must aim for the stars and not let anything stop them. Toby’s own determination led him to set up his charity JustDifferent which employs a team of people who provide interactive and educational workshops to create positive social attitudes towards disability and difference among young people. Lucy also gave a passionate and emotive talk. She told the audience how although her accident had changed her life, that she had gained so much from overcoming it and done so many things she never would have otherwise. Indeed her journey has seen her become a Paralympic star and Britain’s highest ranking ladies wheelchair tennis player.

After their talks, both Lucy and Toby were kept busy answering all the many questions the students had for them. Lucy said:

“It’s fantastic that Barking & Dagenham College is dedicated to helping raise awareness of International Day of Persons with Disabilities as it really helps break down the barriers about key issues."

"You never know what’s going to happen in life, and it doesn’t matter what happens, you’ve just got to give it 100% and enjoy it. It’s been a real privilege and an honour to be asked by the College to come here and meet with the students, I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Toby Hewson added:

“It’s important to help students understand we do the same things as they do, we just do them differently.”

Barking & Dagenham College student, Mercedes Cole, 18, from Ilford who listened to the talks said:

“I think it’s inspirational for students to be able to listen to Toby and Lucy. It allows us to know what other people’s lives are like and it’s inspired me to try new goals.”

In addition to the talks Learning Difficulties & Disabilities students also held a fete at the College which included cake and coffee stalls, a tombola, a raffle and the chance to buy Christmas cards and gifts made by the students.

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