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Why can’t you see me?

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Wanstead teenager Grace Wolstenholme invites you to watch her YouTube channel for an insight into her life with cerebral palsy. In the first of a series of articles, the aspiring actor talks about wheelchairs and boys

Hi, my name is Grace Wolstenholme, I’m 17 years old and I live in Wanstead with my mum, and I can’t leave out my adorable assistant dog Scooby.

I’ve got cerebral palsy, a brain condition that affects my movement and voice. Some people with cerebral palsy can have added disabilities, such as a learning difficulty, but in my case, it does not affect my understanding. Some people don’t always appreciate that I’m not mentally disabled, so to help people learn more about cerebral palsy, I’ve set up an informative YouTube channel to try and spread awareness about the condition.

I posted a message on social media saying I was thinking of doing a Q&A, inviting people to ask me about living with cerebral palsy. From that, I had about 17 questions, which I thought was quite good considering I don’t really have that many followers!

Another video I filmed is called What dating is like with cerebral palsy. Because I want people to see me as a ‘normal’ teenage girl, I wore my grey dress (the one in the photo here), made up my bed and sat on that, and spoke about what dating is like for me. I explain why dating with cerebral palsy isn’t easy at all because I feel that boys just see a wheelchair, no matter what I wear. If a boy saw an able-bodied girl wearing a skimpy dress, they’d be drooling all over her, but if they saw a girl in a wheelchair, they probably wouldn’t look twice because they think a girl in a wheelchair isn’t capable of doing stuff an able-bodied girl could do. They probably think I don’t understand. You tell me. Do you think a girl who doesn’t understand would wear a fitted dress and a full face of make-up? No, they wouldn’t, or is it you think I’m not ‘able enough’ to do stuff? Well, let me tell you, I can walk, I can talk, I can understand and I’ve also got hypermobility, so you know what that means!

But boys would rather go out with a girl who can walk in high heels. Don’t get me wrong, I wear high heels, but there’s only one problem. I won’t get far walking in them! But a boy would rather be seen with a girl who can walk in high heels than be seen with a girl in a wheelchair wearing high heels. Tell me, what is the difference between using wheels to get around rather than legs? Not a lot!

In February, I performed a monologue I wrote about my life called Why can’t you see me, which got some fantastic reviews from the press, and you can watch this on my YouTube channel as well.

Even though I’m in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean I’m not a normal teenage girl, because I am! I just use a wheelchair to get from A to B.

To watch Grace’s videos about life with cerebral palsy, visit wnstd.com/grace
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