An usher at a high profile theatre has been chosen alongside celebs as one of a handful of people to dispel the stigma of living with learning disability.
Aisha Edwards from Brownhill Road, Catford, will be an ambassador for Mencap – as a Myth Busters she will aim to demonstrate just how unique learning disability is and how everyone in the community deserves to be equally seen and heard.
She will do so alongside George Webster – Cbeebies’ first children’s TV presenter with Down’s syndrome; BAFTA Award-winning Tommy Jessop and actor Sarah Gordy, OBE.
Aisha was always told at school that she would struggle to achieve the same things as her peers who didn’t have a learning disability, including getting a job.
Determined to prove people wrong, Aisha worked closely with Mencap’s employment team who supported her in her job search. After lots of hard work and determination she landed her first job at the Young Vic Theatre as an Usher.
Aisha said: “I’m excited to be a Mencap Myth Buster: I just love life and whatever it throws at me! The teachers at school told me I wouldn’t get a job, but I did prove them wrong! If I can do it, anyone can! I am so proud of myself, I really like working at the Young Vic they feel like family.”
Other Myth Busters include Michael Beynon – the first man in Wales with Down’s syndrome to run a marathon, who also set-up his own successful business producing the best Welsh cakes in the country
Another is Sophie Potter – a self-identified ‘Party girl’ who loves Sex and the City and going dancing on nights out with her sister
And another is Ellie Goldstein – face of Gucci and Glamour Magazine’s ‘Gamechanging Model of the Year’.
India Whiley-Morton – a photographer, who herself has an aunt with a learning disability – has released unique portraits of each of them.
India is the daughter of Radio DJ and Mencap ambassador Jo Whiley, who campaigned in spring 2021 to get people with a learning disability prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine, after she was offered the vaccine before her sister Frances who has a learning disability and diabetes.
The images India has taken of The Myth Busters showcase them living happy lives and busting myths at the same time, demonstrating the diverse range of ages, ethnicities, different types of learning disability and regionality each member of the group uniquely brings to the charity.
Mencap released some statistics last year which revealed that two thirds of people in the UK cannot correctly identify a learning disability as a reduced intellectual ability, with 40% of people thinking it’s dyslexia and 28% believing it to relate to a mental health issue. The survey also revealed two in five people (42%) had not seen someone with a learning disability in the media in the past year, with a third (33%) saying they would feel more comfortable talking to someone with a learning disability if they saw them featured more often in the media.
Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, said: “Each and everyone of these Myth Busters are amazing and I can’t thank them enough for joining the Mencap family. To have this diverse group of unique, talented, interesting, energetic, and fun people on board to help us shatter misconceptions, reduce stigma and campaign for societal change and greater inclusion of people with a learning disability is a real pleasure and privilege. We want the UK to be the best place in the world for people with a learning disability to live happy and healthy lives and I’m delighted the Myth Busters are helping us to make this a reality.”