'People change when they see me walk': The disability campaigner fighting discrimination

  • ITV Central's Pablo Taylor went to meet the disability campaigner with cerebral palsy who's fighting discrimination

A man from Solihull who was born with cerebral palsy says he's made it his life's mission to change outdated views on disability.

Joe Bird, 30, is an avid gym-goer and despite his condition can perform exercises that most abled-bodied people would struggle with - including pull ups with 20kg strapped around his waist.

He says that his disability will never hold him back.

"In my mind I don't have those limitations that the word disabled comes with," he said.

"So I try to overcome my disability and be the strongest physically that I can be to lead the best possible lifestyle that I can possibly achieve."

Joe’s story has proved a hit on social media; during lockdown, he began posting videos about his condition on Instagram. They’ve since been watched millions of times.

"I posted a video of me running on a beach when lockdown started opening up and it got about four million views in two days and that's when I knew that I was on to something and that I was really inspiring people around the world."

But despite the support from people around the world, Joe says there is still much to do to change attitudes towards disability.

Joe says his dating life has been tough and people often change once they see him walk. Credit: ITV Central

"The most frustrating thing for me on a personal level is people with physical disabilities and the assumption that someone with a physical disability must also have a learning disability.

"In the past, especially as a teenager, it was difficult with the assumption that people with a disability should only date other people with a disability.

"If I'm just sitting here you wouldn't necessarily know that I had a disability so it's when I start to walk that people change their perceptions of me."

Joe says he will continue to use social media as a way of highlighting body positivity for people who have a disability.

He says he still encounters negative comments from time to time but believes society is changing - slowly, but surely.

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