Writing by the Water
 

The Importance of Independence: An Interview with Active8’s Lindsey Cooper

This is an excerpt the original article was published on bua-consultancy.com

"The idea of becoming independent is something we encounter early as children. We’re taught that we’re meant to go to school, get a job and then move out to start our own lives. Gaining independence can seem difficult if you’re disabled. However, whilst there may be some extra factors to consider, independence should never be out of the question for those of us with disabilities.

Active8 is a Cornish based charity that Liz Olive founded in 1990, to bring like-minded disabled young people together so they could bond and share experiences while completing residential weekends. In its 30-year history, the charity has grown into a hub that helps foster autonomy and independence in all disabled young people they encounter.

I took the time to sit down with one of the charities youth workers, Lindsey Cooper, to ask her some questions about her job and Active8 as a whole.


Lauren: Lindsay, thank you for coming to talk to me today about independence and autonomy for disabled people. I appreciate it. We’re here to talk about Active8, a charity that we’re both affiliated with. You’re a youth worker, and I’m a trustee. So I thought, let’s start with something easy, who are Active8? What do they do? What’s their mission?

Lindsey: So, Active8 is a Cornwall-based charity for people with physical disabilities. They champion independence, autonomy and give experiences to young people aged 13 to 30 with physical disabilities. My job as a youth worker and project coordinator is to find activities for people to do, particularly activities that they thought they couldn’t participate in because of their disability. Or perhaps at some point in their life, they’ve been told they can’t do. Our job as a charity is to find ways to make those things accessible. So, we will always tell people that there isn’t anything they can’t do; they just may have to do things slightly differently to achieve that.

What’s it like working with disabled young people?

For me personally, it is like working with any youth group. When [young people] come on Active8 weekends, they are a typical group of 13 to 18-year-olds. Quite often they tell me that they couldn’t possibly because of their disability do the dishes [for example], and I am more than happy to find ways to make that accessible for them. So, for me, it is just like working with any other youth group.

On the whole, what do you think the charity offers most for young people?

Active8 gives young people the opportunity to challenge themselves, try new things, and gain life experience to help them live a more independent life. We believe at the charity that it is up to the individual how they would like to live independently. Interestingly, independence is being self-governed and making your own decisions.

We give people the opportunity to start doing that through their Active8 life, starting from little things like choosing where they would like to go on trips, choosing what they would like to have for dinner, choosing what they would like to cook, [and choosing] what skills they would like to develop.

We work with each individual throughout the project to set their own goals and targets because we know as a charity, independence will look completely different from person to person. Independence itself is about self-governed. It’s about being free from external control."