DRF News, Events and Conferences

Does Every Child Matter, post-Blair? They sure do! (Conference Report)

Overview of Project: Does Every Child Matter, post-Blair?

What’s life like for disabled children in England?  A research team based at the Research Institute for Health and Social Change at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) have been finding out about the lives of disabled children and their families over the last two years as part of the project ‘Does Every Child Matter, post-Blair?  The interconnections of disabled childhoods’ funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

On 6th April, 2011, a conference was held at MMU which marked the end of the project but the beginning of the process of sharing the project findings  The day brought together researchers from across the UK with disabled young people, parents/carers, and professionals to share ideas.  Professor Dan Goodley and Dr Katherine Runswick-Cole started the day with a presentation of key project findings (for more information on the project visit here and for an overview of the key findings visit here).

This was followed by Dr Louise Holt from Loughborough University presenting a paper entitled: Special units for young people with socio-emotional differences: micro-institutions or spaces of inclusion?  After the break, Hannah Derbyshire presented ‘My Story’ – a fun filled story of her life as a young disabled person.  This was followed by Linda Derbyshire’s moving and inspirational talk ‘Mug of a tea cup?’ in which she explained how she had challenged people to include Hannah in school and in the wider community.  After lunch, George Newsome presented ‘Little about me’ in which he asked the audience to think about the ways in which they could challenge people who discriminate against disabled people. Dr Janice McLaughlin, Newcastle University, spoke about mothering a disabled child in her paper Modes of care and mothering: How does citizenship and care intersect in the lives of mothers of disabled children?.  And the day ended with Angharad Beckett from University of Leeds talking about Challenging Disabling Attitudes; Building an Inclusive Society’. Making the case for anti-disablist education strategies. Podcasts of the sessions are available to download here.

Dr Katherine Runswick-Cole said ‘We know that disabled children matter and, like their non-disabled peers, disabled children are participating in their schools and communities in positive ways which challenge the sometimes negative images of disabled children and young people that circulate. But, we also know that many disabled children still face unacceptable barriers to full participation and that they and their parents/carers have to fight to be included.  In a time of ‘Big Society’ and in the context of cuts to public services, it is everyone’s responsibility to challenge policy makers, practitioners and the wider community to expose and then dismantle these barriers for disabled children.  As Linda said in her presentation ‘Do disabled children matter?  They sure do!’”.

For more information contact Katherine at k.runswick-cole@mmu.ac.uk

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