23 July 2015
In 2011, Emily Dash received a Youngcare At Home Care Grant to help her live an independent life at home. Since then she has been busy, and we mean REALLY busy!
If we haven’t met, I’m Emily – writer, actor, filmmaker, blogger, advocate and First Class Honours graduate (I like to keep myself pretty occupied). I love my family, my friends, and the theatre. Oh, and I have Cerebral Palsy.
I try to live by the motto “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do”.
But one of the biggest challenges I face is society’s attitudes. Driven by fear or good intentions, people put me in a box. I am talked about, rather than talked to. They think it’s okay to stare at me, to invade my personal space, to reach out and touch me.
I become a work of art.
It’s an all too common experience for people with disabilities. And it is not okay. The impacts can be devastating.
Advocating for and educating people about disability issues is exhausting… and sometimes it feels futile. But I’ll never stop. Because every time I speak out, I have the power to change people’s perception. I can make a difference that goes far beyond my own experience and I’m proud of that.
So I’m an artist, not a work of art.
I often explore and challenge perceptions of disability through my work. Last year, I submitted a short multimedia and spoken word piece to an exhibition. It was called (you guessed it) “I Am Not A Work Of Art”, and it was exhibited at the 2014 Arts Activated conference. My team recently received funding from Metro Screen’s Screenability program to make a short film, which will be completed by December in association with Pearly Productions. I hope my work will empower people with disabilities, and expand community perception of what’s possible.
But that’s not all. Youngcare works hard to keep young people like me with high care needs out of aged care. So I thought I’d give back. My friend and I made a short documentary of our recent trip to Melbourne. Hopefully it shows my independence, confidence, and how young people deserve young lives. We are submitting it to two film festivals. One is Focus on Ability Film Festival, which is great. But the other is the Cause Film Festival, in which the prize money will be donated to Youngcare if we win.