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Normalising limb difference. An April Campaign.

Today is the UK launch of the Global Report on Assistive Technology and as we excitedly look ahead to the future, it is important to reflect on all the work that has already happened. Everyday, committed organisations and individual's work tirelessly to make sure the world is a fairer, more just place for disabled people.

Today we reflect on the efforts during April - Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month.

Because conversations, collaborations and the challenging of stigma must continue to happen until the rights of disabled people are realised. Everywhere.

Graphic text #DayInTheLife Limb difference and Limb Loss awareness month

April was Limb Loss and Limb Difference Awareness Month (LLLDAM).

What is LLDAM?

LLDAM is an annual campaign, celebrated globally, which aims to raise awareness and to help educate the public on what a limb difference is and the various reasons why they occur.

While a key focus for LLLDAM is to raise awareness, three UK-based organisations moved the conversation forward in an important new direction, with the launch of a special ‘day in the life’ initiative.

Charities LimbBo Foundation and IAMPOSSIBLE Foundation have joined forces with soft prosthetics company Koalaa, to normalise what it means to have a limb difference.

By encouraging individuals with a limb difference to share a photo of themselves on social media, while going about their daily lives, and using the hashtag #DayInTheLife, they wanted to show that it is no barrier to living a fulfilling life that looks like any other.

Nicole Brennan, founder of IAMPOSSIBLE Foundation, who advocates for a world where ability is not defined by an individual's form or physical appearance, explains:

“Representation of those with limb differences - both within the community and beyond - is incredibly important. It is this representation that shows those at the beginning of their journey with a limb difference that it isn’t a barrier to success or achievement.

“One area where there remains a lack of representation for limb different individuals, is in showing people simply going about their daily activities and living life to the full.

“If your ‘normal’ is to be limb different then your daily life is just that – it’s normal!

“Humans are incredibly adaptive and whether it’s driving a car, working out, cleaning the house, or going shopping, we all adapt these tasks in relation to our physical form. The process of adaptation may take time, careful thought and the use of adaptive aids but there is usually always a way around a task.

“I was born with a limb difference and this perception that somehow it’s amazing I manage to get through the day doing tasks that others take for granted, is something I personally experience on a regular basis. For example, I was recently moving my supermarket shopping from the trolley to my car boot, when a stranger walked over saying ‘let me do that for you’. I had to affirm that I was able to finish the task myself and thank them for the offer.

“Through the #DayInTheLife campaign, we hope to counter some of those perceptions and to move the conversation forward by normalising what it means to have a limb difference.”

Jane Hewitt from LimbBo Foundation, a charity that supports children with limb differences and their families, added this example:

“Tommy is seven and was born without his right hand and part of his forearm. He went to the local supermarket with his mum Katie, who is a trustee of LimbBo. After finishing shopping, Tommy went to return the trolley. A woman stopped to stare at him. She had obviously never seen a child like Tommy before. She started clapping and shouting ‘Well done, good boy’.

“Now she was obviously impressed and I’m sure she was trying to be kind. Tommy, however, just didn’t get it. ‘Why is that lady clapping me mummy?’ he asked.

“Katie’s response was ‘She thinks you are a good boy for helping mummy on Mother’s Day’. Tommy beamed and went away happy.

“If Katie had said ‘she is impressed that you can do something as simple as returning a trolley because you’ve only got one hand …’ the question then is, why shouldn’t I be able to do that?

“This is not a rare incident and we hear about many similar situations happening all the time.”

To take a look back at the campaign, search for @KoalaaCommunity #DayInTheLife on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.