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Stepping into something new is great

6 June 2016
Zarah Osarobo

My mum still calls me a miracle. When I was born I nearly died and had to be sent to a special unit to be looked after. I was there for a week, where I got a bit better. It was then that the doctor assessed me – he told my parents I had cerebral palsy. He also told them I’d never be able to walk, talk, or do the things that most people can. But here I am today, walking and talking. My life living in Nigeria and the UK has taught me a lot of things about the world – including people’s attitudes towards disabilities. This is my story.

When I was 10 months old my mother took me to Nigeria to live with my grandmother. People there didn’t really know a lot about disabilities - a lot of people with learning disabilities are hidden away from everyone else.

My grandmother was an angel, though. There is one story she never let me forget. I was 6 years old and we had just come back from church one Sunday afternoon, my grandmother was holding an ice cream and I wanted it so I got up and walked towards grandma. I took the ice cream and started eating it myself - this was the first time I ever walked.

I came back to England when I was 10 - it was crazy! I didn’t know where I was going, there were no villages, no people washing their clothes outside, and I had to learn how to speak English. I started school here and this helped. The teachers are trained here to support people who have different needs - that is very different to Nigeria!

My teacher told me about Mencap’s Young Ambassador’s – I got involved because I wanted to try something different. 

I have always played it safe. Don’t get me wrong, playing it safe is good but at the same time stepping into something new is great. Trying new things is exciting. So far I have been on trips, one of which was to Scope to talk about my experiences of living independently, I also took part in a mystery shopper exercise this was fun, I had to give feedback on the buses and trains.

One of the first things I did as a Mencap Young Ambassador was presenting the Mencap Our Radio show. I had never thought of doing anything like this before, it was brilliant! I was nervous before doing it, but apparently I was great. I choose some songs from my favourite artists – Jonathan McReynolds and Joann Rosario.

I am also really excited about writing more blogs and telling you my story. Over the next 6 months I am going to be writing blogs and telling people more about my experiences of growing up in Nigeria with a disability and what I will be getting up to as a Young Ambassador. Be sure to stay tuned!

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