Image credit: https://idpwd.org/
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) – observed on 3 December – recognises visible and invisible disabilities, to promote the importance of inclusion in life and the workplace – encouraging business leaders across the globe to value the unique contributions of those living with disabilities.
It is estimated that 16% of the global population has a disability. Some appear obvious, while others aren’t immediately apparent. Some people may start their disability journey having no visible signs until their condition develops, and the visible symptoms begin to show.
Scott Brown (35) had to come terms with a lifechanging condition, when he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) at a relatively young age.
MS is a neurological condition that affects the brain and spinal cord, where the coating which protects your nerves is damaged due to the immune system attacking it by mistake. This damage can cause a variety of symptoms such as blurred vision, mobility issues, problems with memory and thinking, and emotional problems.
“It was three days after my 24th birthday when the hospital told me that they suspected MS after spending what felt like the entire weekend going in and out of an MRI machine,” says Scott.
Scott had finished university that year (2012), he had the world at his feet, and was eager to go out and get his first post-graduate job.
Being told this difficult news was part relief and part deflation for Scott as he explains: “There was a sense of relief, as I had spent around six months of the year thinking that the balance issues I was experiencing were the result of a bad tackle from a kick-around my friends and I had. But deflation that I had spent four years at university, and now needed to take more time out to recover and process what this new life of living with a disability was going to look like.”
Following his diagnosis, Scott took some time to see a specialist to help him process the news surrounding his diagnosis, as well as news of another health problem which had arisen due to genetics.
Scott overcame the news, and soon became bored of looking at the same four walls and wanted to get out into the world again. It was then he saw that The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS) needed more volunteers.
“At the time, the retail head office was based around the corner from my house, so I thought it was an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. So, I answered the advertisement, and was thrown in at the deep end that same week. The rest as they say is history,” he says.
Scott flourished as a volunteer and now works as an employee at TAAS as the charity’s Retail Operations Data Administrator.
Scott (pictured) decided not to let his diagnosis get the better of him, and he always tries to see the lighter side of situations, often saying, “it’s not something I can change, so why let it get me down”.
One of Scott’s dominant symptoms is still his balance, and he needs to walk with a stick for support.
“I don’t like it, but it is something I have learned to deal with, and I get to style it out at Christmas. Even with the stick, I sometimes have falls. But it’s something that I just shake off and say that I’m doing a public service by checking that gravity is still working (you’re welcome world),” he says jovially.
It is estimated that there are over 130,000 people in the UK living with MS, with 7,000 new diagnoses each year. Scott has found resources from the MS Society very useful, such as their booklets and carries their ‘I have MS’ card. He has also had incredible support from TAAS.
“I have had great support from all the line managers I have had during my time at TAAS regarding my health conditions, and feel that they are understanding, and will do all they can to help me,” Scott adds.
Andrea Stallan, TAAS Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Manager expresses: “International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an important date for organisations and communities to come together to raise awareness, promote inclusion, and take action to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. Scott is a real role model here at the charity and champions the cause as EDI Disability Network Chair.”