Lichfield runner tackles marathon challenge to change attitudes towards learning disability

Lichfield’s Charlotte Aspley hopes to change attitudes to learning disability through marathon run 

Lichfield news
Charlotte Aspley. Photo: Jordan Curtis Hughes

Lichfield news: A local supermarket cashier is taking on the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon for the UK’s leading learning disability charity, Mencap, to help change attitudes towards learning disability.

Charlotte Aspley from Lichfield is aiming to raise over £2,500 for the charity’s new schools programme, All Move, which brings young people with and without a learning disability together through sport. It is hoped that this contact and inclusive sports approach will change young people’s attitudes towards learning disability and be a ‘game changer’ for future generations to come.   

The 29 year-old, who has Mosaic Down’s syndrome and visual impairment, runs with a guide runner. She refuses to let learning disability, physical disability, and serious injury hold her back and wants to use the marathon show what people with a learning disability can do.  

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Charlotte was a member of the British Gymnastics trampoline squad with ambitions to be a Paralympian when she suffered a broken neck during training. She is now running 26.2 miles to help raise vital funds for Mencap to help tackle the stigma and social exclusion faced by people with a learning disability. 

“Mencap has helped me so much,” says Charlotte. “They helped me get a job, boosted my confidence and inspired me to take up running. I want to give something back. 

“I have little vision when I’m not wearing my glasses. Because of this, I run with a guide who makes sure I know where I am running and encourages me to pick my feet up when I am flagging. I hope anyone that got a place at next year’s London Marathon will consider fundraising for Mencap. They have done so much for me.” 

Around 1.5 million people have a learning disability in the UK, a reduced intellectual ability that affects people for their whole lives. They often face discrimination and being treated as less than equal throughout every element of their lives. Being bullied is one of the things people with a learning disability worry about most when they go out. As a result people with a learning disability are more likely to be socially isolated, with one in three people with a learning disability spending less than one hour outside of their homes on a typical Saturday. They are also nearly twice as likely to be inactive and die prematurely, on average over two decades earlier compared to those without a learning disability.  

Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want and also campaigns to change laws, improve services and challenge negative attitudes towards people with a learning disability, Mencap’s ‘Here I Am’ campaign aims to increase the visibility of people with a learning disability in the media and society. 

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“I know that it isn’t always easy for people with a learning disability,” says Charlotte. “Stigma, or a lack of understanding about what a learning disability is, means that things that everyone takes for granted are made impossible for people with a learning disability. But I’m proof that if you’ve got the right support, you can do anything. That’s why I want to give something back to Mencap for all of the support they’ve given me. I am proud of everything I have achieved as it is really important to raise money for people with a learning disability as their voices and opinions are not always heard. This is something Mencap is changing!” 

Mencap will be using the income raised from the marathon to fund, All Move, a game-changing new schools programme. All Move will bring 1200 children across the country both with and without a learning disability together through sport to help transform attitudes towards learning disability for the next generation.  

Find out more about running the Marathon for Mencap: https://www.mencap.org.uk/event/2020-virgin-money-london-marathon 

To support Charlotte, please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CharlotteAspley  

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