In recognition of his ‘Different Abilities’, James Cawley is hosting the ‘Big Blue Celebration’ in Cassidy's Drumlish at 9pm on Saturday, July 1 next.
As the newly appointed chairperson of the Arthrogryposis Association Ireland, the Longford man is hosting the Celebration to raise awareness of Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) and to raise some much needed funds for the organisation.
AMC is a disorder that develops before birth and involves limited mobility of many joints.
“I was born with AMC which affects my upper and lower limbs and spinal cord, meaning I have to use a wheelchair,” said James speaking to the Longford Leader.
“I can use my hands and legs but they’re fixed in position, with almost no movement in my left hand.
“Secondary to my disability, I also have scoliosis of the spine and osteoporosis from sitting down all the time which means I attend services such as physiotherapy.”
James’ personal assistant Peter Kirk assists with daily tasks like dressing, washing, cooking, cleaning and getting out of bed in the morning.
The Drumlish man has never let his disability stop him from moving forward and he started off in mainstream education in Drumlish. He was supported with the help of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Breege McGee throughout his primary, and second level education at Moyne CS.
After doing the Leaving Certificate, he applied to Maynooth University through the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) where he received a BA in Geography and Business.
He undertook a Masters thereafter and graduated with a First Class Honours in a Professional Masters of Education.
He now teaches at Maynooth Community College.
“I love teaching; I've been helped all my life so this is the job where I can give back and be a positive role model for young people,” continued James who then pointed out that he has also advocates for people with disabilities.
“I think if we want to increase the percentage of disabled people in the labour force we need to break down the barriers for them.
“If we normalise disabled people in the workforce it increases the awareness of people’s ability and skills.
“People with disabilities have a right to be supported and without personal assistants they have to rely on family and friends to help them live independent lives.”