Cerebral Palsy Youtuber's channel out to debunk disability misconceptions
Having successfully tried her hand at being an author and journalist, and after appearances on The Voice, the X-Factor, and Britain's Got Talent, a local woman with Cerebral Palsy has set up a dedicated Youtube channel to helping others.
Having overcome an early medical prognosis from doctors who warned that she could have troubles learning to speak as a result of her CP, Francesca Dean (22) has flourished, her unique eloquence seeing her thrive in academia to earn 10 GCSEs, and now wants to open up the discourse around CP to make it less socially taboo and more accessible.
"The Youtube channel is going really well," said Francesca. "It's amazing, you don't realise how many people want to listen until you've uploaded a video and to learn that my advise is helping is absolutely unreal.
"The fact that people say, 'I can relate to what she's talking about,' is quite something," she added. "You get a lot of positivity from it, knowing you're helping someone in the same situation as yourself."
With videos on everything from pregnancy, album reviews, and mental health to song covers and chats about the importance of creativity, Francesca is keen to provide a voice and a face to help anyone else by showing them that the stigmas around CP can be eroded.
"When I first decided to go on camera, I was nervous," explained Francesca, who wants to raise the channel's profile,to show people an alternative to the misconceptions surrounding the limitations of diagnosed conditions. "But as the views came in, my jaw hit the floor.
"My target audience is to no only help people in the same boat as me, but to speak to carers and parents, who can think that a diagnosed condition means, 'That's it, we're done, we can't move on,'" she added. "My channel shows there is something to look forward to."
An ambassador for Blackburn Youth Zone, a youth facility offering programmes from those aged eight to 18 with further options for those aged up to 25, Francesca calls the facility a "lifeline" for parents and carers, who can see their loved ones blossom in the right environment.
Also involved with the Action Factory Community Arts in Darwen, who deliver visual and expressive art sessions for people with a range of conditions, Francesca is adamant that with the necessary support networks, people can surprise themselves.
"No matter what you're dealing with, you can accomplish what you set out to do as long as you have the right mindset and the right support around you," she said. "The Action Factory has allowed everyone involved to become more confident, and being creative and putting your ideas forward - no matter how big or small - which have real potential.
"Everyone should have a voice," she continued. "I think mental health should be put on the school curriculum; [suffering from mental health issues and not being able to communicate properly] could hinder a child's development.
"We can make the CP journey so much easier."
Francesca's Youtube channel can be found at www.youtube.com/channel/UCbbkXlYVYMkfG9259rSpQrw.