Tayla shares her awesome life
Tayla Sloot sees a lot from her wheelchair. And she knows that her disability is a barrier that prevents people getting to know her.
But worse than that, Tayla knows her wheelchair can be frightening for young children. She’s seen young children hide behind their parents, too scared to approach her.
Tayla, 25, thinks this is because children have limited awareness of those who have disabilities, and her solution has been to write a book about her life to reach out to school children.
“I want to tell others that don’t know about disabilities or cerebral palsy,” Tayla says. “For me, I find it hard to sometimes get my words out, and being in a wheelchair I have to get some help to get around.”
She says people are often in too much of a hurry when they encounter disabled people. Her goal is to change attitudes, starting with children.
In ‘My Life with Cerebral Palsy’, Tayla answers some of the questions that children might want to ask about her disability and what it’s like being in a wheelchair. But Tayla’s book is also full of photographs and she’s open about her life and what she achieves every day. She lives in a flat, is a member of a drama group, and does voluntary work.
“I have written this book to talk about my disability. I would like to share what an awesome life I live and the cool things I get up to,” she writes.
“I hope after reading my book you will know more about me and you won’t feel shy to come and talk to me.”
Her book has been six years in the making. With support from IDEA Services staff at Switch in Dunedin, Tayla has written it, illustrated it and raised $1000 to get it printed. In 2017 she held a quiz night to raise funds to cover the cost of publishing the 28-page book. To help Tayla share her message, Dunedin Print decided to boost the number of copies she could afford to print – only 32 – to 320.
Tayla says her main message to people who read her book is, “I enjoy the same things that you enjoy.”
In May she launched her book to a room full of family members friends and supporters and more than a few tears.
Her next step is to send copies of her book to Dunedin schools and other organisations to spread her message to a wider audience and help more people understand cerebral palsy and how amazing life can be. Tayla will give her book and a presentation to her former schools in Dunedin.
Caption: Tayla Sloot is keen to share her story with young people and answer their questions.
This story was published in Strong Voices. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.
Download PDF of Strong Voices issue