Changing people's perceptions of being 'labelled' with a learning difficulty

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    pledged of £6,000

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Completion Date: Thu 01 Sep 2016

I'm Jess (26) and I have been involved within the education, cultural heritage and museum sector for 6 years engaging young people. I would like to gain practical experience in designing and delivering inclusive art projects. Raising £6,000 would fund tuition fees for a one year Masters at the University of Brighton as I have been recently accepted on to the Inclusive Arts Practice MA.  


Using my personal experiences of having dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia I would like to gather other people’s thoughts and experiences, positive and negative and to raise awareness of learning difficulties in society. Participants will learn about themselves exploring the history, social views and the future of the learning difficulties community.  Whilst developing my own arts practice participants will learn about the neurodiversity history through art and reflect on their own personal experiences. Their artwork will help to raise awareness of learning difficulties for others.  

Story telling

I have volunteered and had internships within the arts and museum sector and had short term contracts working in the charity sector for the past 6 years. I also have experience of setting up my own voluntary organisation ‘Dyspraxic Me’, a support group for young adults with dyspraxia.

Growing Up

During my time at school my teachers didn’t understand me or how I learned. I started school left handed and finished right handed. They made me use pens you could only hold in your right hand. I shared a desk with my teacher and she would place her hand on my hand as I wrote. When I was around 8 years old I met a teacher who taught me how to tell the time, catch a ball and took me to the supermarket to learn maths. When I was about 10 she assessed me to have dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.

After secondary school I went to college and got a triple distinction in photography. I didn’t feel ready for work because I found it difficult to communicate with people, and my English and Maths skills were lower than average for my age but I was able to get a place at University and got a degree in Photography. While at University I took a module in museum studies and discovered I could have a career in museums. In my final year I felt able to work and I started to volunteer at a museum. I was unemployed for two and half years. After a year and a half of unemployment I asked The Prince’s Trust for help. A few months later they helped me to get an apprenticeship but five months later I was unemployed again. The apprenticeship wasn’t accessible. I lost this job and the apprenticeship due to extra exams and the organisation didn’t learn about learning difficulties. Because of all the setbacks this has given me the determination to support others and raise awareness.
I have been in the situation of long-term unemployed and have experienced discrimination in the workplace. Creative Choices recently asked if I could write an article for the online magazine on how to make the interview process more inclusive:

This year I collaborated with a designer and illustrator to produce the "Creative Heritage Scrapbook" a toolkit for best practice when working with young people on heritage projects.

Donating wouldn’t just allow me to attend University you will also be giving the Neurodiversity community the opportunity to share their stories and to raise awareness.
The MA in Inclusive Arts Practice will enable me to learn inclusive ways of facilitating art workshops, gain experience of collaborating with artists, developing and delivering inclusive art workshops, build a large portfolio of art projects that can help further my career as an inclusive arts facilitator whilst raising awareness and supporting people with learning difficulties.

Where will the money go?

£6,000 for the Inclusive Arts Practice MA course fees
Extra funds will go towards art materials for course


With my interest of supporting and raising awareness of learning difficulties, three years ago I voluntarily set up a support group for young adults with dyspraxia called 'Dyspraxic Me'. The project offers young people with dyspraxia the chance to take part in a series of workshops that help them develop useful skills for adulthood.  I am solely responsible for organising and facilitating all aspects of our monthly workshops. Organisations such as Goldsmiths University, Oxford Brookes, My Bnk, Dyspraxia Foundation, Bikeworks, Shape Arts and others have been involved with developing workshops.

I will gain and develop my skills to take Dyspraxic Me further and participants of will also be given more opportunities to raise awareness of dyspraxia.

Find us @:
Dyspraxic Me website:
Twitter: @DyspraxicMe
Facebook: DyspraxicMe
Art website:
Twitter: @JessicaStarns

Thank you for taking the time to open and read my pitch and please raise awareness of neurodiversity.