COLDSTREAM’s Richard Stepanenko, who attends Lanark Lodge Day Centre in Duns, is one of the stars of a new DVD produced by the Scottish Borders Learning Disability Service.
The DVD, titled ‘Independence Days: Our Life- Our Stories’, was launched at a special event held in Galashiels on Friday, March 4, attended by everyone who took part in making it and senior figures from the NHS Health Board and Council’s Social Work Department.
The DVD includes a series of interviews with local people with learning disabilities going about their day to day lives.
Explaining the story behind it, Richard said: “We wanted to be able to tell people what it means to have a learning disability, but we also wanted to get across the message that we want to be able to do the same things in life and be able to make the same choices as everyone else.”
One of the most powerful messages in the 13 minute DVD is the way that its central characters talk about their hopes and aspirations for living happy, normal and fulfilling lives – like everyone else.
The DVD also highlights the range and variety of support services available to people with learning disabilities living in the Scottish Borders, and how services are more appropriately provided in the community setting.
Tricia Hunter, Group Manager, Joint Social Work/NHS Borders Learning Disability Service commented: “The success of the DVD is down to our service users. Their enthusiasm and commitment have helped create an excellent tool for helping people find out exactly what it means to have a learning disability. That can only be a good thing as we continue to work towards integrating our service users into local communities.
Calum Campbell, Chief Executive, NHS Borders was also full of praise for everyone involved in ‘Independence Days’.
He said: “The dedication of everyone involved in making this DVD has led to the production of a valuable resource which raises awareness about what it means to have a learning disability.
“We appreciate those who have told their own stories. This illustrates what those with a learning disability do to achieve a fulfilling and active life in the Borders.”
Executive Member for Social Work (Social Care and Health) Councillor Frances Renton added her support to the project, saying: “I hope this DVD finds a wide audience of young and old alike. It is only 13 minutes long but it gives a strong message about the worthwhile contribution that adults with learning disabilities bring to our community life.”
The idea for the DVD originated during the 2010 Learning Disability Week event organised by the Scottish Borders Learning Disability Service, which was focused on raising public awareness about learning disability.
It is being distributed to appropriate staff within the Learning Disability Service, NHS Borders, Scottish Borders Council and external providers, for use as a training tool with the principal aim of raising awareness about learning disability and to assist with the induction of new staff whose roles will involve working with people with learning disabilities.
Copies are available on request from The Health improvement Team, Scottish Borders Learning Disability Service on 01896 824582.