Inspirational teenager overcomes autism and cerebral palsy to take up leading role with charity

A 19-year-old college student from West Lothian has been appointed as a board trustee at Values ​​into Action Scotland – a charity that supports people with autism and/or learning difficulties.

Aaron Hume (19) had already accomplished so much prior to his board appointment, including co-authoring a paper on the effects of Covid-19 on people with disabilities alongside get2gether members and Napier University professors, becoming an ambassador for the ‘Stay up Late ‘charity, and served as ambassador for Inclusion in West Lothian while in High School.

Aaron has multiple disabilities – cerebral palsy, autism, and a moderate learning difficulty along with cerebral visual and speech difficulties – he uses signs, gestures, and a device called a talker to communicate.

Aaron is on the ground-floor in various projects across West Lothian, including the ‘Human Rights Town’ app which is a project aiming to help people with disabilities recognize if their human rights are being denied in their everyday lives.

Aaron said: “I, like many others over the last two years, hit graduation and turned 18 slap-bang in the middle of our first lockdown. Depression, confusion, anxiety and unrest was an understatement.

“You may be aware already, but there is not a lot of social opportunity services out there for people like me.

“After months of searching, I came across two local groups to me – Get2gether and GigBuddies West Lothian – I joined up to both immediately.

“Get2gether did everything from live daily seated exercises to member led events like discos, quiz nights, comedy nights, murder mystery nights and so much more, all from the comfort of my desk chair!

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“We link with other groups and charities to raise the voices of people with disabilities to inact change in the way society perceives and treats us.

“Socially and professionally, I don’t know where I would have been if I had not found this awesome group.”

Get2gether is a charity that supports people with disabilities to develop their social skills and connect and engage with others – Aaron attributes much of his recent success to them.

As well as his board appointment Aaron is part of the Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities, he regularly gives talks to student learning disability nurses at Edinburgh Napier University, and sits on their interview panel offering his lived experience living with a learning disability.

He currently studies at West Lothian College on an assisted learning programme, and also takes part in a leaders course run by the Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities and Inspiring Scotland.

Aaron was awarded a commendation for his work at West Lothian College at the Student of the Year Awards held by the College Development Network.

Aaron continued to write about his board appointment.

He said: “I have always been interested in helping to show others that people with disabilities can contribute in a really good way to society.

“I am really looking forward to working with all of the staff and fellow trustees at Values ​​Into Action Scotland in the coming years.

“Without the opportunities afforded to me, life would look very, very different for me, and I am so thankful I have been lucky.

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“Yes, LUCKY. Because here is the key issue…. I stumbled into these groups by sheer luck.

“They’re not given nearly as much news or recognition that they deserve, they could reach so many more people like me who could really, really use their help, support and guidance to turn our lives around for the better and give us the opportunities to make a real valuable contribution to our communities and society as a whole.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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