Spoonie Stories

What It’s Like Being a Wheelchair User at School

One of our new writers, Caitlyn Fulton makes her debut for Spoonie Stuff. She tells her story: what it's like to be a wheelchair user as a young person throughout school.

I have Cerebral Palsy, and I am very fortunate that I am cognitively well and was able to go to a mainstream primary and secondary school. But that came with its challenges as a wheelchair user.

At primary school I had to make sure that all my classes were downstairs. The school I went to didn’t have a lift and I couldn’t walk several flights of stairs, as my condition mainly affects my legs, balance and coordination. I also had to make sure that there was an accessible toilet and classroom assistants to escort me to class.

My disability didn’t really phase me much when I was young as I knew no different. My classmates accepted me for who I was, and if they asked any questions I would answer them. 

Going to ‘big school’ in a wheelchair was a bumpy ride

I was excited to make the move from primary to secondary school. However, it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped. People stared, gave me looks and some would just walk right by me when I tried to make conversation with them.

I’d feel like I was different but I came to the realisation that was their problem. I was just being my true and genuine self.  My so called “friends” from various clubs outside of school left me out as I was disabled. A part of me felt betrayed as they were so nice to me when we were younger. But I was seeing who they really were and their true colours were coming to light.

I had to just keep my head up high and remind myself that I was the better person. I’m the same as everyone else, I just get about differently. I mean I go about on wheels! What’s not to love about that?

A school trip of a lifetime

In my 3rd year at secondary school, there was a History trip to Belgium. The WW2 topic really interested me, but I was unsure if I would be able to go. When you’re a wheelchair user there is a lot of planning involved when doing things like school trips. I told the school that I wanted to go and they did their best to make sure I would have a brilliant time and everything was accessible for me. I had the most amazing few days away and enjoyed learning about that period of History.

Now, I attend College and I’m a second year music student. The course is going really well and I enjoy it.  Going into new environments for the first time is very very hard as you’re in the minority. Nothing is easy but any issues get dealt with.

People who have a disability and use a wheelchair always have to work that little bit harder to be accepted in today’s society. Yes there are hurdles, but I tackle them head on and don’t let anything stop me. Luckily I am fortunate to have a group of true friends who love me for who I am. They see the person and not the disability.

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