An Audience at the House of Lords

The thought of speaking at the House of Lords would be a daunting prospect even for the best public speaker.
Not so for Jemima Browning at the tender age of only 16 years. The Year 11 student just takes everything in her stride to promote sport for all, no matter what the disability of the person. Passionate, dedicated and motivated by the desire to make a change, Jemima travelled to London, accompanied by Headteacher Martyn Sibley, her brother Will and his Teaching Assistant Deborah Clark. She delivered her speech with the help of Will and Mrs Clark and this is what they said:
Hello my name is Will Browning and this is my sister Jemima. We are both students at Tadcaster Grammar School.
I am extremely passionate about disability sport and feel that everyone should have the same opportunities to take part and succeed. From personal experience I have seen how people sometimes struggle to see past a person’s disability. People don’t see Will first, they see his Down’s Syndrome and perceive he is ‘different’. This has led to him often feeling excluded, isolated and unhappy.
I feel very sad when I can’t join in.
Will does not understand why he is excluded. I think that people with disabilities are left out due to ignorance and lack of understanding in the mainstream environment that leads to people with disabilities being treated differently. Someone with a disability should not be seen as a disabled person, they should be seen as a person first, a person who just happens to have a disability. A person that should have the same rights and opportunities as you or I.
Play Unified is changing this current perception of people with disabilities. Through bringing young people together and placing us with the direct responsibility to bring about change we are able to create new opportunities for all of us.
I have set up a dance group for students at school with and without disabilities. This is a great opportunity to dance together and have fun. Some students do not like dancing but come along anyway due to the relaxed and enjoyable nature of the group. Every other week an external dance teacher comes into the school and we learn some new moves. The following week we practice this and give the students an opportunity to choose what they want to do. Last week some students even ran and lead part of the session.
I didn’t like dance until I did it with the Play Unified group with all my friends. It is so much fun!
Through my work, it has led to a truly memorable moment for me, with my brother and I representing Great Britain on the Special Olympics European Youth Committee; being the voice of young people across Europe and influencing international policy.
I was very nervous to meet all the new people but I made friends very soon. I can’t wait to see them again.
At my school, Play Unified is having a really positive impact. It is raising awareness of disability and challenging attitudes, promoting co-leadership, giving opportunities to succeed, improving self-esteem, reducing bullying, promoting inclusion and improving the school environment.
I love Play Unified