Link August 2017 - Page 42

intellectual disability making a difference F ounder and chief executive of DanDaLion Friends Laury Bray is attempting to make permanent change to perceptions of the disability world, writes Steve Brew. diffabilities?” Working for, with members and families are also and through his 22-year-old son substantial and deeply personal. Alison Dan (‘Dan Da Lion’), who is on the Fenton, whose 18-year-old son Ben autism spectrum, Laury has created has Down syndrome and is profoundly DanDaLionFriends. deaf, says that he loves DanDaLion Friends’ events as they provide him a hosts inclusive social events, which rare opportunity to socialise. from a new angle, starting with foster the building of friendships changing the word ‘disability’ to by integrating its members with invited anywhere, and has no-one to ‘diffability’. the broader community. “It is as hang out with. At his day group, one much about the community as the recent activity required him to list all Laury founded DanDaLion members,” Laury says. “I don’t want his friends. The exercise proved quite Friends in 2013, to celebrate and them to be seen as events for those a challenge for him. After thinking demonstrate the value that people with diffabilities. They are for everyone, awhile, he wrote down his sisters’ with a ‘diffability’ contribute to the including parents and carers.” names, and then added his teacher’s Laury Bray is tackling attitudes Passionate about this approach, DanDaLion Friends arranges and ”Ben has no friends, is never community. He wants to recapture the unbridled pride in small therapist by trade, has been a achievements, and the seemingly volunteer with DanDaLion for over is common amongst those with unlimited optimism, tenacity, and joy two years. She sees the organisation diffabilities. However, with the support of life that accompany the world of as an opportunity to work in the of volunteers, parents and carers, Laury diffability. disability sector at a grassroots level, is working hard to change this and and identifies with DanDaLion’s make what he calls, ‘a generational “You and I can leave a legacy, so ethos: “It feels natural,” she says. change’ to perceptions, tolerance, why can’t my son and others with acceptance and understanding. Laury challenges current thinking: Clare Griffin, an occupational The benefits for the organisation’s name to the list.” This heart-breaking situation Laury Bray started DanDaLion Friends with limited resources in June 2013 and runs the organisation today on a zero income budget. They exist on nothing more than small grants and donations to help fund further activities, but ultimately Laury would like to see DanDaLion Friends become a legitimate charity in its own right. Armed with a commitment to his core values of innovation, integrity and inspiration, Laury is working hard to make his dream become a reality. He is providing the spark that is igni