Maman Poulet | Clucking away crookedly through media, politics and life

Tommy comes up trumps

January 9th, 2009 · No Comments · Blogging, Disability, Social Policy

Tommy Collison is one of the youngest bloggers in Ireland. He’s now also the winner of the Junior Category of the Social and Behavioural Sciences Section in the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. Like many other bloggers I read about the development of the project and was looking forward to seeing the results. Tommy’s project was entitled What are the issues faced by children with Cerebral Palsy (CP) in mainstream education? As a disabled person and someone who works with people with disabilities I wanted to know more!

As people with disabilities we are very often over researched….by able bodied people. Poked and prodded and talked at and about by people who no doubt are interested in what we do and don’t do and how we do it and need to find lots of things out for various bodies and agencies. Often there is an obligation to engage with able bodied researchers as there are power imbalances and problems with saying no.

When people with disabilities do work in the area of research or sciences often we try to do things that are not about disability in order to prove ourselves. However researching ourselves is so important – we bring different perspective and knowledge to the subject. The disabled people we ask questions of are often more willing to answer questions from us. We need to both tell and interpret our stories in search of truth and knowledge.

Watching Tommy speak about his research to judges and on his television interviews I was very proud to see a researcher speak with confidence about his life and experience and how it convinced him to see what others thought and had gone through. And he made recommendations on what can be changed to further improve the experience of students with Cerebral Palsy in second level. I know they will be sent on to people who need to know these things.

I had a look through his very detailed project report today when I visited and was hugely impressed in the level of work and the methodology. This was a methodologically sound project with lots of transferable skills demonstrated – ie. this guy is going to go far whatever he does. As someone who has taught some sociology and supervised a thesis and research projects and completed my own research projects at 3rd level I was struck by the standard of the work by someone so young. (A Thought – It would great to see the Sociological Association of Ireland engage in some work with school students interested in social research to continue this interest into third level. Eh Sean?)

I was thrilled to hear tonight that Tommy won – not only his section but also a prize for communicating – but sure we all knew he could do that anyway through his blog!

I also met Tommy’s mam – Lily – a new blogger! Cute moment overshare – Lily ran away too afraid to watch the judges interview Tommy in a final judging session 🙂

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