Emily Nicole Roberts lives with cerebral palsy. She is a wheelchair user and disability activist from Swansea, South Wales and her main aim is to change lives by sharing videos of hers on YouTube. Emily shared her thoughts in our Future Voices column last year.

When I was 13, I trawled the internet for videos to guide me on getting dressed, exercising, and transferring; truly just to find advice on life and adapting to an un-adapted world.

Sadly, I came up with nothing. 

My feelings of being lost increased, along with the incorrect notion of not belonging at all. I decided that disability was seemingly only recognised by the wider world for comedy or sporting purposes. 

I’m not funny, sporty or Stephen Hawking. What about just being “normal”?

My self-esteem, even two years ago was non-existent. I wanted to be anything other than who I was. Until I bought a budget camera and tripod (because I never normally stick to things) and, decided to be the person that I needed when I was younger, once and for all. 

Fast forward a year, and I now realise that my cerebral palsy is life-changing, not life-limiting. If someone asked the question: “If I waved a magic wand, would you change anything?” My answer would be: not at all.

My situation – pardon the pun here – allows me to stand out from the crowd. It enables me to be who I am. To pick up my camera and speak for those people, fight for those people, who may not otherwise be heard. Heck, I have only been given this opportunity as a result of my CP, so, how could I be anything other than grateful for that? 

The YouTube videos I searched for, I now create. From getting dressed, to driving, to just being me, at the very least, hopefully, I’m showing others that they can be themselves too.

Hitting 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, working with the BBC, being shortlisted for a National Diversity Award, speaking on Radio One with Greg James, just last year alone, that all came from just being myself. 

Emily Nicole Roberts

If you take nothing else away from this piece just know this:

You are enough because you are you. 

The truth is, there are billions of people on this planet but the universe chose you to be here, and guess what? There’s only one you so, I think you’re pretty awesome! You have made it through every single tough day because you are tougher.

I hope to keep making videos until I change as many lives as I can. I know that whatever you put your mind to, you will achieve too. Please, just accept yourself. 

You can follow Emily on YouTube or find her on Instagram at @emilynicoleroberts.

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