With UK disabled motorists charity Mobilise's inaugural 'Get Going' event less than a month away, disabled youngsters across Norfolk and Suffolk are being urged to swap the word "no" for "yes" by learning to drive.
Rob Sweeting is a driving instructor who specializes in teaching disabled youngsters and believes that learning to drive can empower youngsters to improve all aspects of their lives. "Too often disabled youngsters hear the word "no" and as a society we have to change that perception, creating 'yes's' where previously there were only 'no's'. Disability is not necessarily a bar to driving and learning to drive can teach a level of independence which can be lacking within the general education system, whilst also opening doors to a whole raft of new experiences including further education and employment possibilities."
A former 'Road Safety Officer' with Suffolk County Council, Rob knows that safe driving is a life-skill, which develops in any individual a capacity to think and plan ahead, fostering a culture of independence which can positively impact on every aspect of day-to-day life. "Teaching a person to drive is about coaching an individual to think for themselves. As much as it is instructional and while it can be a challenging process, the individual's sense of self-worth grows enormously and the end result is all the more rewarding".
To help the disabled motorist, Rob has both automatic and manual transmission vehicles, featuring an assortment of alterations. "The automatic, includes electronic controls, a steering spinner and can effectively be driven with one hand and one foot, or even with no feet at all, ensuring as many people as possible have access to instruction."
Mobilise, who are a UK-wide campaigning charity for disabled motorists and Blue Badge holders, want to raise awareness of the fact that young people with disabilities can qualify for their driving license a year earlier than their non-disabled friends, meaning with a little forward planning, disabled youngsters can be driving in time for their first day at college, university or their first-job and therefore are teaming up with other voluntary organizations and local driving instructors like Rob Sweeting to encourage youngsters across the region.
The message then is clear, if you are, or know, a disabled youngster who is interested in learning to drive, or even if you would just like more information, head to the 'Get Going' event at the OPEN venue in Norwich on Saturday 19th February. The day will feature a diverse range of fun activities for everyone including all-ability climbing, modeling and makeover tips. The Open Day lasts from 11am - 4pm and is FREE to all disabled youngsters aged between 15-26 and their friends and family. Although the event is aimed at young people, the information and activities on offer will be suitable for all ages - including non-drivers.