Kat uses humour to challenge attitudes to disability

Kat Pemberton who has created a film tackling disability prejudice

A Bradford College student has created a film urging young people to be more understanding and accepting of those with disabilities.

Kat Pemberton, 19, who uses a wheelchair, has been subjected to numerous cruel and insensitive comments and treatments throughout her life.

But the teenager is determined to turn her negative experiences into something positive and has teamed up with Fixers – a national charity that gives young people a voice – to make a short film that she hopes will help change attitudes.

“I've created a film about some of the things that have happened to me way too often, and really shouldn't,” said Kat, who was born with spinal muscular atrophy type 2, a rare genetic condition which causes muscle weakness

“Some comments drive me insane, like 'I bet you never get tired', 'I bet you get special treatment' or 'we need to find you a wheelchair boyfriend'.

“I don’t think people mean to be offensive or inappropriate; I just think they often don’t think about their actions or what they’re saying.”

Kat’s film pokes fun at some of the hurtful comments that have come her way and she hopes the comedic approach will cut through to the audience.

“For me, humour is a great coping mechanism,” said the Art and Design student.

“I make fun of myself all the time and that works for me. It is a great way to get the conversation out there.

“I think humour makes it easier to get the message across and it takes a bit of the awkwardness out of the topic. I don’t want people to think disability is a taboo subject they shouldn’t talk about, I just want them to think and to be sensitive about what they say.”

Kat is no stranger to the camera as she vlogs about her “weird and wonderful life” on YouTube via her own channel under the name Katzclaws.

“It is not a channel where I sit down and say – look at me I am disabled and look how horrible it is. That is not what it is whatsoever,” she explained.

“It is there for people to see that I am a regular teenager. Even though I have a disability I go about my daily life. I go shopping, I have friends and I go to night clubs and lead a normal life.

“I want to break down stereotypes of people with disabilities and challenge disability discrimination.”

Kat’s Fixers film can be viewed below

Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 across the UK by providing them with resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about.