My name is Sara Pickard and I’m 27. I’m an actor, a local community councillor and a project officer for Mencap Cymru. I first became interested in politics by watching the news. That’s key to my work. Then my parents urged me to follow my heart. I became a councillor on my local community council for the Pentyrch ward in 2007.
I like being a councillor because it’s important to make sure that people’s voices are heard. People can come to me to get an issue raised. For example, a neighbour of mine who was losing her sight needed some visual aids on the local benches so she could use them when walking her dog.
In my spare time, I’ve got a lot of hobbies. I do a lot of dancing and acting – I’ve always been a big performer. I also enjoy music and swimming – just being active.
My younger sister is one of my biggest heroes. She does a lot of work with people with disabilities, such as supporting a pupil with Down’s syndrome in a primary school. She also works as an advocate and is doing her master’s. But I also think that I’m one of her heroes – we inspire each other a lot.
My sister is my best friend but I also have lots of supportive friends, from college days, school days, drama friends, dancing friends. I love them to bits.
Not just a boring office job
I have also helped to promote politics to people with a learning disability, as Mencap Cymru’s Partners in Politics project officer. I travelled to schools and colleges talking to people about how politics is in their everyday lives.
I think people with a learning disability aren’t being heard. We should be able to say what we want. I’ve done sessions for people with Down’s syndrome and they come up with amazing answers – people with a learning disability are just the same as other people, why leave them out?
This April, I began a new role as participation project officer for Inspire Me – a Mencap project funded by The Co-operative to create opportunities for 20,000 young people with a learning disability. I will deliver five life-skills workshops to young people on areas such as money and motivation.
I don’t get too nervous standing up in front of people to deliver workshops. Through my acting work I feel comfortable standing on a stage and presenting to an audience. It feels good to be able to go out and inspire people in their lives and to make a difference.
I love being able to help young people stand up for themselves. It’s knowing when I come into work that I'm actually making a difference. It’s not just a boring office job.
I’d like to see people with a learning disability having more self-confidence. Earlier this year I took part in a photoshoot for Mencap’s Viewpoint magazine. They included me in a Hotlist of inspiring people. If people see that I have a learning disability and I’m doing this, then I can be a role model for them.
I've got Down's syndrome, so what? I still work, I still do drama, I'm still a community councillor, the list can go on and on. I don't want to see Down's syndrome as a barrier, I think that's really wrong.
I want people to be happy, to know the future is out there, they have a voice. I want people to believe in themselves and think that if I can do it, so can they.
Find out more about Inspire Me