In this section you will find the stories of two people Matthew Whitney and Valerie Browne. Hopefully Val and Matt are the first of many who will contribute to our online archive. If you would like to have your story documented here please do get in touch using. You will find contact information here.
On Val and Matt’s personal pages you will find:
A short introduction
A short film about their journey out of residential care
A timeline, including documents and videos which show highlights from these intensely personal journies
In relation to the personal stories portrayed here, it is important to say that this is not just the story of a move out of institutional life into a community. That in itself is important. But equally important is the representation of the unique minds of the individuals concerned. Much has been documented about the social justice and social inclusion aspects of disability. This is important and something which is of great importance to me personally. However I have been struck by what the minds and sensibilities of those involved here truly have to offer the world.
Therefore this is not simply “the perspective of a person with a disability” in the usual way, e.g. access, service-land, inclusion, attitudes. It is all of this. But the creative core is a deeper internal journey for Matthew and Valerie and those of us who share this world with them. There is the story of the transition out of institutional living. But there is also a story of how different ways of seeing the world are of genuine value to humanity. We need to explore how we stop paying lip-service to this. As a society we congratulate ourselves when people with disabilities are “allowed” to participate in Olympics or workplaces (usually certain types of work which are “typical-disability jobs”, low-skilled, charitable or voluntary) or as “valued” members of society. But how do we go beyond this? How do we really show that these ways of seeing the world are vital for humanity to understand and learn from, really learn from. How do we turn the world around and see that there is an equal meaning in our shared humanity? When Matthew uses his extraordinary brain and remembers facts the rest of us envy, or when he sees to the core of political corruption and says how the world should be, can we be reminded of what our collective purer selves wants? When Valerie speaks so articulately and intelligently and “experts” on her life still do not hear and when she points this out and we still do not hear, what does this tell us about what kind of value we place on “being human”? Who is valued and why? These are deep questions about how we live as a society of human beings.
These are just some of the questions posed by this journey, a personal, artistic and social justice journey.