Mia shares her story of her work placement at Shape for three school terms. Her contribution reminded us that young disabled people have a range of talents and that the arts can provide rich experience for them, boost their confidence and help them to progress in their lives.

About myself

My name is Mia and I am 17 years old. I study enterprise at my sixth form college in Islington, London. I really enjoy creating cartoon characters and telling stories and I would love to get into illustration and character design in the future. My favourite style of work is animation, where I especially take inspiration from manga, which is a form of Japanese cartoon animation. In my leisure time I spend hours drawing on my floor.

I also love music and musical theatre. I used to be in a band at school called ‘Simple plan’. We had so much fun performing in concerts and making songs, but the band broke up because we had no time to practise or perform because we had to focus on our exams, although we had one last show before we sat our exams. I am currently doing an art challenge, dancing and acting without speaking to robotic music. I also like spending time with my friends and we always find a way to make things more fun.

participants work placed on a wall

Shape and I

I first heard about Shape from one of my teachers at school. It sounded interesting to do my work placement at Shape so I applied for their Youth Motivator role and started working in November 2015. My role was to go in schools and youth clubs to deliver motivational chats and inspire young disabled people to keep getting involved in the arts.

Shape has shown me new skills and helped me get confidence in the workplace. I feel sometimes that my disability makes me feel not good enough, so one of the challenges I have faced is confidence - I also struggle with writing maths and directions. I have learning difficulties but I don’t let that get in my way. These conditions have helped me to be more creative as a person. I don’t let them stop my fun or creativity.

My work placement with the youth team at Shape helped me unlock the potential that I didn’t know I had. I have learnt so many new skills like using the printer and USB sticks and how to create a new folder on my computer drive. Sometimes it was hard to work in the office but I developed problem solving skills to get the work done. Yannis supported me to finish my work and made my placement kind of fun. My work as a motivator was a new thing for me - in my creative chats and workshops in schools, I got to meet new people similar to me and made them believe in their dreams. My experience with the chats has given me confidence around other people and improved my communication skills. During the placement, I won 1st place in a talent competition.

Looking forward

My year at Shape made me find out that I can do things that I didn’t know I could do. Shape took me out of my comfort zone and helped me realise that I can push my limits and achieve things I never thought I could achieve. I finally believe in myself. 

People at Shape have opened a new door to keep me moving forward. I don’t know what I what to do when I’m older but I want to do something within the arts. I am not going to stay in the shallow end but not just jump in at the deep end. After college I will possibly go to university to do animation. Thanks to Shape for definitely moving me forward to unlock doors of achievement.

The Youtube video below aims at inspiring next generations.

Banner Image: Young leader Jess (L) with Mia (R) 

Image further down: Some of the work made by workshop participants

Shape is member of Islington Council's learning disability partnership, supporting employment of learning disabled people.

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