A teenager at Bath College is visiting schools to speak out about what it’s like to live with a disability.
Simeon Wakely has Spina Bifida or split spine, a condition which stops the spine developing as it should.
He needs a wheelchair to get around, but is fiercely independent and is working to challenges stereotypes about disability.
Simeon already has a blog about living with Spina Bifida, set up after he enrolled on an IT course at Bath College.
His articles have stuck a chord with readers around the world, including parents bringing up young disabled children.
Now the 19-year-old has started visiting schools in Bath, speaking about disability in assemblies and leading interactive workshops.
He said: “Disability is a label, but it’s not who you are. It shouldn’t define you as a person – a person is a person, whether they have a disability or not.
“Making friends is a challenge for me because people are embarrassed about my disability, they are embarrassed when I want them to be themselves around me.
“It can be lonely, so it’s important for people to know there are other people out there facing the same things.”
Simeon, from Timsbury, went to school at St Martin’s Garden Primary School and Ralph Allen before enrolling at Bath College in 2014.
His achievements include playing and coaching for the wheelchair basketball team South West Scorpions, as well as carrying the Olympic torch in 2012.
In February, Simeon begins a three-month teacher training course at Bath College to help him with his outreach work in schools.
His first visit, to King Edward’s School, was a big success and has inspired him to set up his own business.
To help with this, he will take part in a series of business workshops at the college.
Simeon said: “I talked about the whole spectrum of disability physical, mental and developmental disabilities.
“My third eldest brother has Down’s syndrome, so I’m able to talk about that as well. It was scary at first, but after the first task I got them to feedback and their ideas were surprisingly good.
“I want to turn the project into a business. Hopefully I will be able to get advice on how to do it because it’s the first time I have tried to set up a business.
“It’s been amazing the opportunities I have been offered over the last six months. Without this support the project wouldn’t be where it is today, it’s only through the advice I have had from Bath College.
“My advice to anyone with a disability would to be as independent as possible. Don’t let the label of disability affect what you want to do.
“It’s what I have had to learn and unfortunately I have had to learn it the hard way.”
To visit Simeon’s website click here.