Facilitator: Jane Ring, Parent, carer support officer, LOOK UK.

Guest Speakers: Karen Newell, Play Consultant and Brand Guardian of Mixmups and cofounder of #toylikeme, Fern Lulham, Visually Impaired actress and voice-over artist for Mixmups, Ellie Wallwork, LOOK mentor and actress, Grant Mallabar LOOK mentor.

At the beginning of May, our themed Parent Support Group (PSG) met to discuss the impact of positive representation in the media and beyond and how this can help improve self-esteem and self-worth of our visually impaired children and young people.

Karen Newell discussed her experience of disability representation in the media and what motivated her and co-founder Rebecca Atkinson to create Mixmups a new series on Milkshake! Channel 5 which follows three friends – Pockets, Giggles and Spin.

Pockets is visually impaired and uses a guide dog called Yapette. Giggles is a cat with curvature of the spine who uses a wheelchair and Spin is non-disabled and very boisterous.

Guest Fern Lulham shared her experiences as a young blind woman and her passion for nurturing self-confidence and resilience.

We also heard from LOOK Mentors Ellie and Grant about their experience of positive representation in the media as they grew up and the impact it had when they met other VI young people, “It made me realise I wasn’t the only one, the odd one out. It massively helped my confidence, helped me come to terms with the disability and getting my first cane. It also inspires me to see some of the things my friends are doing, breaking down barriers always.”

Watch

You can watch the original session, here:

“It’s so important to find out how first to open the doors rather than shutting the door before it has a chance to open.” Parent

Top Tips for Parents/carers

  • Resist the temptation to tell your child that their disability will not stop them from doing anything that non-disabled people can do. They may have to do certain things a little differently.
  • Audio Description can really help and make your child feel so much more a part of things.
  • Tell your child that everyone has things they can’t do 
  • Help them understand that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness  
  • My family encouraged me to be self-sufficient, which can really help in my later years  
  • Join clubs that you enjoy 
  • Be around like-minded people, it helps you find that feeling of belonging 
  • Don’t resist your cane if you need it 
  • Be around other disabled  children not just the VI community
  • Treat disability as a part of life
  • Sometimes life sucks- learn to embrace it 
  • Have open conversations with your child
  • Remember not to gloss over things 
  • Everyone has struggles 
  • Ask your child what they need and let them lead
  • Work as a team to work things out 
  • Confidence and self-esteem are a journey 
  • Don’t tell your child they have a superpower 
  • You can’t change what people think 
  • Show them that you care, talk to teachers so they can learn about your child and their needs 
  • Be around lots of different people
  • Spend time with people that make you feel good
  • Share the message that there is always a way 
  • Teach resilience and model how to handle the big stuff 
  • Teach how to find solutions and not to dwell but to move forward.
  • Let your children grow and find their own way 
  • Let them fail. Make mistakes and learn from them 
  • Teach them how to find a solution to their problem
  • Your child needs to do things on their own to know what they can and can’t do 
  • Volunteer for your local sight loss charity 
  • Make sure your child is addressed not you 
  • Teach your child not to be ashamed of their vision impairment

Resources

Karen Newell shares her power point detailing the Story Behind the Mixmups.

TV Shows

Mixmups: The first children’s TV show creating magic with its representation of disability.

Positive Representation in the Media

  • Lucy Edwards – UK-based, award-winning blind presenter, content creator and disability activist.
  • Molly Burke – Speaker, content creator, model, author, and advocate. At four years old, Molly was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare degenerative eye disease, causing eventual blindness. She began public speaking at the age of five to raise awareness for her community.
  • Darren Harris – Double Paralympian and England’s most capped and most decorated blind footballer. Listen to Darren’s TED talk on Why Resilience is a Social Skill.
  • Aria Mia Loberti-  Blind Actress in All the Light We Cannot See Netflix series
  • Bring the Drama-  BBC reality TV show featuring up-and-coming actors including Chris who is Deaf and Rehanna who is Blind. 
  • Ebony Rose Dark and her drag shows 
  • Peter White, Disability Affairs Correspondent on BBC. He is a  presenter on Radio 4 shows In Touch and You and Yours You and Yours  In Touch
  • Matthew and Paul- Two Guys and a Guide Dog YouTube Channel InstagramPaul’s website

Visually impaired sportspeople

Reading

A library of representative children’s books.

“So many similarities and common experiences really help especially the anger and frustration. Thanks so much for sharing.” Parent


The LOOK Parent Support Group is peer-led, hosted by Jane Ring and Jo Lomas, both of whom are parents to a visually impaired child (and Jo has a VI herself). You can find more information about the group here, plus a link to the resources produced from previous panel events: