As a female-strong organisation, there is nothing we love more than empowering women and amplifying their voices.
But who inspires each of us to do what we do? I asked team Sunshine…
We are very proud to be a female-powered organisation, and 80% of our webinar attendees are also female.
It is so entirely empowering to empower other females; but I am intrigued to know who inspires our amazing Sunshine team?
Who sparked their interest in this area of ethics and justice?
Where did that burning desire to amplify the voices of others come from?
CHRISSA’S INSPIRATION IS MISS.WILD – English Teacher in year 10 & 11
When I was 14, I moved to Derby from South Wales. In Wales, I was happy and successful (even at the ripe old age of 14!) having played sports at county level and developed a talent and love for singing on stage (and I’d even recorded an album!). It was familiar as were the kids I attended school with; it was a close-knit community where everyone knew everyone and that familiarity was something I’d become quite used to; dependent on to a certain extent. I didn’t realise just how much, until I moved.
To the kids in Derby I was the weird one, I had a strong Welsh accent and I dressed differently and used language in a slightly different way. I was bullied and picked on from day one, and significantly traumatised. It made me realise how different I was, and despite being quite the confident socialite I struggled to form friendships and was ostracised for any talents that I had.
That was until I met my English teacher, Miss Wild. She enabled my interest in language; how (despite speaking the same language) I spoke differently to people in Derby. I fell in love with the use of language and writing, and she really took the time to build safe and secure connections with me. She empowered me with knowledge, so much that I regularly popped in to her class at lunch time for chats about literature. She validated me, and my differences, and embraced them; in turn helping me to embrace them too. My English class fast became my favourite; I felt so confident in that class that I had a strong voice and was confident in using it, I would even help those less able in the subject to understand the work we had to do. My grades were excellent, and I went over and above with my course work. Miss Wild invited me to apply for the role of “English Prefect”; something only usually available to 6th formers, but I was 15. I jumped at the chance, and thoroughly enjoyed developing younger students’ love for the English language and literature.
I went from going home each lunch time in fear of the bullies to staying in school and using that time to develop my writing skills and helping other students to do the same. I even went on to study A Level English Literature, and thoroughly enjoyed it (and developed life-long friendships in my A Level English class!).
Later in life, I ran into Miss Wild and told her how I was helping to develop screenplays with my husband and invited her to come along to my first short film premiere. I had used so much of my GCSE and A Level English literature studies in my production of the film, so I was thrilled that she came along.
Just recently I discovered my GCSE English coursework, where I’d written an Autobiography. My long term career goals involved using my love for writing and Psychology to support children and young people with special educational needs. I had forgotten all about that! Yet here I am… Doing just that!
I’ve never lost that love of writing, and I will never ever forget how safe and validated Miss Wild made me feel. She has inspired my life work, and has really made me realise the importance of safe and secure connections – something I talk about every day in my work!
MARGUERITE’S INSPIRATION IS HER MOTHER-IN-LAW
My mother-in-law taught me how to be a good mother to our children and she allowed me to marry her son. She inspires me as she is always giving and never expecting anything in return. She is kind and has very strong family values. She does not waiver at the sign of a problem and always has a solution.
International Women’s Day means that we stand proud of our achievements as women – no matter how small. The theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge and as I am a Director at Sunshine Support I am changing the idea/concept/perspective/stereotype that a Director can only be White and male.
SAM’S INSPIRATION IS MAYA ANGELOU
She is inspiring for so many reasons but what personally touched me was her utter resilience against the trauma she experienced in her life. Her words are powerful, and she has used them eloquently to not only tell her story but help and inspire others. I first came across her when my mother-in-law bought me one of her books. I then researched her to find she was so much more than just another author.
International Women’s Day is a day to not only celebrate what we have achieved to date but also to continue to accelerate equality further. It’s also for me a day to honour those women who were the early fighters who demanded that we have a voice and a vote! As a single working mother I hold these fearless women in such high esteem for giving me what I have today!
TADIWA’S INSPIRATION IS HER MUM, IRENE
My mum is the warmest soul with the gentlest heart! She gives 110% into everything and has a genuine passion for looking after people and helping others. She is a true inspiration due to her sheer kindness and energy that lights up the room. My mum has a contagious laugh and a humour like no other. I only need slight eye contact from her which will have me laughing – we read each other’s mind. She is an extremely strong mother to two daughters who look up to her very much. She has been a great influence in mine and my sister’s lives and has taught us strength and independence in many ways. My mum is a great support to me, reminding me that I can always count on her for the small and the big things in life.
SHE IS GREAT.
My mother is completely selfless and has made many sacrifices in her work and everyday life to ensure her daughters have the best possible future, she has definitely succeeded and ticked that box for me and my sister in a very short amount of time during our existence.
International woman’s day is important to me as women of all shape, race, sexuality, disability and culture, deserve recognition and deserve to have their voices heard! I am really glad that due to social media and the internet, we can amplify our voices and have days like this which are dedicated to us and remind us of how powerful we all are.
Thank you and Happy International Women’s Day to all the wonderful women of the world!
REA’S INSPIRATION IS HER MUM, CATHERINE.
“The strongest woman I know, who will be teaching me to be the best I can for the rest of my life.” If anyone asks me what my mum is like this is what comes to mind, she is a strong, she is powerful, she is protective, and will always look to help me learn instead of making me feel bad for not knowing what to do.
My mum works in the NHS working in the community to support individuals when they’ve come out of hospital. This saint raised me, she taught me everything, she fought for me when no one else would, she ensured that people accepted and supported me despite any diagnosis I was given. Without my mum I wouldn’t be who I am today, in the sense that without her I wouldn’t have finished school, I wouldn’t have got my first job, I wouldn’t have had the confident to go to university, I wouldn’t have spoken a word.
Back all those years ago when I arrived (bundle of joy that I am), there was a set of dreams, hopes expectations everyone had for me. When my mum noticed I wasn’t quite the same as other children, she didn’t hesitate to fight for me, to check and test to see if there was anything ‘different’. She was right (as always) she stuck with her instincts and ever since has been my biggest supporter, my advocate when I couldn’t speak, and my teacher when I couldn’t learn. I’m thankful I’m her daughter, as I don’t think I would be half the woman I am without her.
JES’S INSPIRATION IS RACHEL MAIA.
‘Don’t let anyone tell you what you are or are not capable of! No one defines you. You choose who you want to be, then be that person… even if you have to fight to become her. It’s on you to silence the negative voices and run to the positive sounds in your life that remind you to have that critical self belief which allows you to grow’.
Rachel Maia is a New Zealand paraclimber. Rachel provides a frank and open account of the struggles of managing a physical disability, with parenting 3 children, one of whom has special educational needs.
Rachel has inspired me to think about how I see myself, both as a climber, and as a female. Rachel has inspired me to embrace all the different aspects of who I am, and to redefine my femininity as strength, grit and resilience, as well as openness, sensitivity, and softness.
Rachel’s ongoing stories about motherhood also challenge me to think about the mother I one day want to be.
The climbing community has historically been a very white, male community. Although it is becoming a friendlier place, it’s still a place which massively lacks diversity and can be intimidating if you don’t fit into the ‘strong white male’ category. For Rachel to find her voice and share her journey publicly, is to me a huge inspiration and reminds me that strength is not defined purely by your physical abilities, but also by your mental resilience, and your ability to open up and share your struggles in order to support others.
To me, International Women’s Day is a chance for us to celebrate the diversity of womanhood, and to continue to grow and develop what it is to be a woman. It is a day to welcome everyone who sees themselves as a woman, and to celebrate our differences as well as our similarities. To me, womanhood is about supporting each other, and encouraging each other to find and own our individual voices and to speak loud and clear about who we are, and who we want to be.
AMY’S INSPIRATION IS PAULA McGOWAN
“Irrespective if you have autism or learning difficulties, you have the right to the same level of healthcare outcomes as everybody else.” Paula highlighted the rights of everyone to be treated equally in the healthcare system.
Oliver died aged 18 when medical staff administered drugs he begged them not to prescribe. Oliver was admitted to hospital after having a seizure, where the staff spoke over him and in medical jargon. The way they approached Oliver made him heightened and more frightened. Oliver made it clear in the ambulance and a&e that he wasn’t to be given antipsychotic drugs because they made him feel unwell. The family said the same to all the medical staff. Following Olivers severe reaction to the drugs he sadly died.
Since Olivers death Paula has successfully campaigned for mandatory training for all NHS and social care staff to improve their understanding of people with learning disabilities and/or autism, and to ensure their voices are heard and views are respected. https://www.olivermcgowan.org https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/learning-disability/oliver-mcgowan-mandatory-training-learning-disability-autism
For me Paula represents a mothers/families dogged determination to ensure lessons are learnt and a legacy is made from that awful event. When faced with every families worst nightmare the strength and courage to use their experience to make the world a better place for others is astounding. Paula continues to fight for the rights of autistic people 3 years following her sons death.
I love to hear the amazing achievements of women worldwide through International Women’s day. From the women who take on the world to the women who take on the next step. By collaborating and empowering each other we can comfortably be at the table. I love sharing the stories with my children, I want to inspire them to be curious and to make the world a better place, either by a step or a mountain.
CORRINA’S INSPIRATION ARE HER DAUGHTERS
There are many great women throughout history who inspire me. Freda Kahlo, Anne Frank, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks to name but a few. Strong women who have overcome adversity and made a stand for what they believe in.
But the women who inspire me the most are my daughters.
I have three daughters all autistic, all facing their own adversities, each with their own unique strengths and style. Every day I see growth, passion and inner strength. They have created their own paths, and yes sometimes they stumble, but they always get up, and to me, that is true strength. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the beauty, passion and strength of womanhood, to acknowledge those from the past but also encourage those of the future.
There are many great women, but none as great as my own who inspire me every day.
KELLY’S INSPIRATION IS HER MUM, HELENA
I think the quote above just encompasses everything you need to be a decent honest hardworking person. For me it is about recognising that to be the best version of ourselves, we have to make the hard choices and run away from them because they are too difficult or uncomfortable. I really try and live by that motto and make the right choices; not just the easy ones.
For me international women’s day is about celebrating how wonderfully diverse women are and particularly the strengths that women bring to society. My mom was a single parent bringing three of us up and we had very very little. There was and still is such a stigma attached to women who are single parents, but she challenged that and worked whatever jobs she could do, often putting herself at risk working as a taxi driver on a Friday and Saturday nights. It is amazing now to see how far she has come and all that she has achieved. She had it tough but she never gave up and that is the kind of strength that should be celebrated, to keep pushing forwards when at times the world is against you.
She is my absolute rock and the person I go to for advice, a kick up the backside and is my absolute moral compass. She inspires me everyday to be the best version of myself and is my biggest cheerleader.
RUTH’S INSPIRATION IS BOUDICCA
“I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body and my outraged daughters”
This quote was recorded in 98AD by Tacitus , a Roman historian, whose father-in –law, Agricola, had actually served in Briton, and witnessed Boudicca make her speech. Whilst I am sure this is not what she said word for word, the essence of her massage cannot be mistaken.
I am a historian to my very core, and when asked to choose a woman who inspires me, I will always look deep into the past, to the many incredible women who have helped to shape our world.
Boudicca lived in a world dominated by the power of Roman invaders; her freedom lost to a patriarchal society where woman had little value. Yet when Roman injustice became too much to bear, when her lands were stolen and her daughters were raped, she stood at the front of a mighty army to fight against tyranny.
To me, Boudicca represents all that I fight for: justice for children who are often ignored by our outdated Education system. Young people who experience injustice; who are wronged by the adults who ‘rule’ them on a daily basis. Boudicca reminds me that whatever ‘might and power’ we think we face, it is always worth standing and fighting for the freedom and justice for those who feel weak and overpowered.
So, there you have it… These amazing women are the inspiration behind what team Sunshine do. Their work, attitudes and lasting impacts on us individually are the reason we have that fire in our belly – the reason team Sunshine continues to do what we do!
Over to you… Who inspires you?
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