I am Liam, I am 19 years old and have been going to Claire House for over 11 years.

As it is Disability Pride Month, I would just like to talk about what my disability means to me and how Claire House has helped me deal with it. I don’t usually define myself as having a disability. I know that it is part of me, but it doesn’t define me. I have Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) which is a muscle wasting condition that can mean that you progressively lose ability to move over time.

I think that I have managed my condition quite well in the sense that I still retain a good amount of upper body movement and strength; Claire House has helped me achieve this through hydrotherapy, which I receive every few weeks. This helps me because doing exercise is a lot easier for me in a hydrotherapy pool. Doing exercise means I use my muscles which helps them to stay at a reasonable strength.

I also receive counselling through Claire House which helps with the mental side of my disability. It can be a lot of effort to get out the house every day with a disability. My disability affects my confidence and motivation, so my counselling helps me manage this. I know that others can also find it a lot harder than me.

Going down the street can sometimes worry you, with people looking at you, not knowing if crossing the road will be accessible and having to turn around and find another way can be disheartening to some people. Also people being inconsiderate parking over dropped kerbs, shops/restaurants having steps and parking in disabled spaces without a badge. People can also park too close to your car making it difficult to get in and out, which can be frustrating.

This Disability Pride Month it is important to explore and deal with these issues but, living life with a disability is so much better since the start of Disability Pride Month in 1990. I seem to deal with the challenges I face quite well, I just like to get on with things. Laws require places to be a lot more wheelchair accessible than in the past.

Even sports have become more accessible. I play Power Hockey and Power Football at Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool, which is accessible to any wheelchair user as you use electric wheelchairs to play the sports. I am also able to enjoy going to LFC games, festivals and the cinema, which is all accessible to me, which may not have been the case 30 years ago. I have also started my journey into learning to drive, which is enabled due to amazing driving aids, which make driving a car easier for me.

I have just finished my first year in university and it was a fantastic experience. I lived away for the first time in uni accommodation, I’ve made loads of new friends and have been able to live my life to the fullest, with the help of PA’s who enable me to go about my life without the need to worry about if I have suitable care in place.

My aspirations for the future are for the world to become much more accessible, learning to drive which will enable me to drive myself on a European road trip, getting a job when I finish uni and travelling to many places around the world.