Graduate Story:

Jessica Donohoe

Jess is a disability rights advocate who discovered new ways to get her message across at Bootcamp.

I came across Bootcamp through a fellow campaigner and previous graduate. I have been a disability rights advocate for most of my adult life (and probably prior without fully realising), campaigning for issues very close to home with the Muscular Dystrophy UK Trailblazers. At the point of application, I had no real focus and wasn’t sure how to initiate such reform, assuming that I had to have a large backing before I could even begin to make change – I suppose I applied in the hope of gaining more confidence and clarity in how I choose to promote equality.

I arrived at Bootcamp apprehensive and unsure of what to expect – needless to say, my emotions went redundant after I met the clan I was about to share my week with. There were so many valuable things I learnt from my time at camp, but if I were to choose the most poignant sessions for me, it would have to be how to strategise a campaign from start to finish. Beginning anything is a tough task in itself, regardless of any emotional investment you might have… my training gave me perspective in many senses.

Since returning home, I’ve come to realise that not all advocacy has to be portrayed in a serious manner, even to the point of airing my experiences on a BBC comedy show. I was given a platform to express the human and relatable aspects of the daily struggles as a person with a physical disability, something I never would have had the nerve to do previously. This experience has given me the drive to design a website, allowing other disabled folk to share their unique, real-life stories in a predominantly able society.

Bootcamp was an intangible experience I will carry with me for as long as I continue to campaign. I was enriched by the diversity of topics at my camp, each individual with their own story and reason for being there, many who I still keep in regular contact with today. I was enlightened to many issues I had previously never given much thought to.

I would encourage anyone who even has the slightest bit of interest in campaigning to apply… if nothing else, you’ll get to meet and spend a week with a very ace group of people!

Jessica Donohoe

I am involved with a lot of the Muscular Dystrophy UK Trailblazers campaigning. I have been contributing to this cause for a number of years as it is very close to home. We are a national network of 700, mostly consisting of young disabled people. We campaign for change, provide guidance, and are experts in what life is like for physically disabled people. We are passionately committed to challenging the barriers in society that stop us from living full and independent lives.