Interview with Mark Silverman

Mark is a new member of our official Facebook group, and he has a rather interesting campaign of his own that I think a lot of you might just relate too…..

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So, Mark, tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am 41, married and have a son. For my day time job I am responsible for Planning and Transport Policy, including responsibility for on-street parking schemes, for a local authority in Hertfordshire. I have had this role for 10 years and it also involves me introducing disabled parking bays to areas. Parking can be really emotive, there’s no doubt about that! We also have a blue badge at home.

You have a Blue Badge at home, why is that?

My son has Duchenne Muscular Dystropy. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a condition which causes muscle weakness. It starts in childhood and may be noticed when a child has difficulty standing up, climbing or running. It is a genetic condition and can be inherited. It predominantly affects boys.

Everyone wants to know what your campaign entails, please tell us more:

I am a minifigure activist – well I say I am, but actually ‘Kevin’ is the minifigure activist leading this campaign yet strangely his views are coincidentally identical to mine. (Kevin’s image is used above).

We are both campaigning for Lego to bring out some disabled characters and paralympians. My son loves Lego, yet Lego as a company seem absolutely oblivious to representing any form of disability in their minifigures or city sets. We want the Lego Group to recognise that diversity is important for minifigures and that they have rights too. It’s 2015 and minifigures are having to rely on wheelchairs made out of spare satellite dishes and unwanted bus seats! Lego brings out hundreds of different sets and characters, so it really has no excuse, long gone are the days when Lego was solely a DIY play activity.  That means Lego has the ability to design disability into its sets – perhaps even a duty to?   

Mermaids, Gingerbread Men and Wizards are (quite rightly) well represented in the minifigure community but other than the occasional pirate with a wooden leg, minifigures with mobility impairments are nowhere to be seen. Hardly surprising when wheelchair options are non-existent. Let’s have #wheels4lego in the shops, and our paralympian and other role models with disabilities better represented in the minifigure community.

We have created a Facebook page to highlight this failure by such a large and influential company such as Lego.

So what is the aim then Mark?

The new Facebook page is going quite well, but I have submitted 4 ideas to the Lego ideas website and they have each been knocked back despite having support from people like Tanni Grey-Thomson and David Weir. If people like me feel as strongly that children should be exposed to a diverse range of Lego minifigures, including our paralympian heroes, then I request that they please support us.

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Chris’ bit

Mark and Kevin have our backing as we feel the public perception of the disabled is something that needs an injection of positivity. It is often said children don’t see colour or race, and they don’t really see disability either. Education is key here, it is only the lack of open and frank conversation in households that cause any issues. However, if you have a child with a disability or are a parent with a disability, you’ll know that your children do not need any extra pressure to feel that they may be a little different. Difference is fine but diversity and acceptance therein starts with understanding and empathy. Building a respect for those not the same as us.

What this campaign will do, hopefully, is enforce a positive image of disability carrying on from the good work done at London 2012 and out Paralympian stars, showing that hopes and dreams come in all shapes and sizes.

Like I often tell my own kids, anything is possible, you just have to put your mind to it.

Mark’s fantastic campaign is called Wheels4Lego and his new Facebook page is here. When you head over there please tell him where you read about his story!

Original image credit – mehrblickblog – used with thanks

Additional related links:

Action Duchenne is a national charity campaigning and funding research for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Click here to watch a unique presentation about Duchenne, which Mark put together for them.  

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