Trailblazers launches at Parliament

Published Date
Reason Digital
Jade Smith next to Trailblazers banner

Young people with neuromuscular conditions joined forces in the House of Commons on 15 July as the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign launched Trailblazers – an exciting new volunteering opportunity which will turn the passions of young people into action.

Judith and Laura Merry with Baroness Neuberger at the House of CommonsTrailblazers was launched at the Annual General Meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Muscular Dystrophy in Westminster. Addressing the group, Baroness Julia Neuberger, the Prime Minister’s Advisor on Volunteering, said: “Volunteering improves levels of well-being for volunteers, the people they work with and those that benefit from their work.

“Only six percent of all volunteers are disabled. I am therefore delighted that the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign has set up this network which will provide an invaluable opportunity for so many young adults living with muscle disease.

Trailblazers is by young people for young people and that is why I will do all I can to ensure it receives the Parliamentary support it deserves.”

Jo Swinson MP, the youngest Member of Parliament at 27, also spoke at the event and said: “It’s fantastic that young people with muscle disease are being given the opportunity to see their ideas make a difference, gain extra qualifications and really make an impact in their local communities.

“Too often the views of young people are ignored. Just because you are young it doesn’t mean you can’t make a positive difference in your local community.”

Two of Trailblazers new campaigning ambassadors are Judith and Laura Merry – 19-year-old identical twins who both have congenital myopathy. Judith said:

“As Trailblazers we will have the chance to work on projects that are important to us in. The topics can be anything you feel strongly about, like better support at school and university or increased access to transport and leisure facilities.

“As well as having the chance to campaign on the things that are most important to me, Trailblazers has given me an opportunity to make friends with people who have similar interests. I’ve also learnt lots of new skills, which I will be able to use in the future as I hope to work for a charity. I think my experience with Trailblazers is going be invaluable.”

What next?
We are recruiting more Trailblazers – anyone between 16 and 30 who is keen to fight for the rights of disabled people can sign up.

Once groups of ten campaigners have been established in each region, the Trailblazers will then learn how to organise their very own campaign. This might involve anything from being an undercover reporter, running an event in Parliament, organising fun social events, managing a website or contacting local media.

Trailblazers will also give the young campaigners a chance to tap into their creative side – the name of the network was dreamed up by 17-year-old Michaela Hollywood who has spinal muscular atrophy and the concept for the unique Trailblazers flyers was created by young people attending the design studio at the Neuromuscular Centre in Cheshire.

Another ambassador, David Gale, 24, from Carlisle who has Becker muscular dystrophy, said:

Trailblazers is supporting me in a campaign to improve facilities for disabled people at sports venues and cinemas.

“I urge all young people with muscle disease and their friends to get in touch right now – together we can get our voices heard and make a real difference!!”

Check out the photos from the launch.

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