Conceived in 2006 and launched in 2008 by its founder, Toby Hewson (a young man with cerebral palsy), JustDifferent was formed to make a positive difference to the lives of both disabled and non disabled people. JustDifferent employs a team of disabled workshop presenters who have created and delivered disability and difference workshops in to mainstream schools since 2008. In 2018 we expanded our offer to include workplace workshops available to businesses.
With a passionate interest in the education system, Toby decided to use his years of voluntary experience as a springboard for creating an organisation educating children and young people about disability and difference.
When visiting schools, Toby observed that children and young people responded to his physical difference with imagination and curiosity. They viewed his wheelchair and speech synthesiser (communicator) with fascination, learning that they are simply tools to assist him with his active life.
Our Workshop Presenters, all with varying disabilities, deliver their positive messages via multimedia, which includes a brief story about their life including personal achievements, activities, quizzes and a question and answer session. Highlighting that they can do many of the things the children do just in a different way!
The positive responses from the children, young people and their teachers lead us to the conclusion that our work was also required more widely in the community. The team have visited both Scout and Guiding Association groups, Women’s Institutes, as well as Rotary and Lions Clubs.
After 10 years of educating the younger generation we felt it was vital to work more widely within society and so a range of workplace workshops have been created. The creation of these workshops has coincided with our geographical expansion, with the opening of our office in Rotherham in 2018 which serves Yorkshire and The Humber region.
“I write this message having recently met an amazing and incredible young man, Toby.
What this inspiring individual teaches us is that impairment is simply a frame of mind. I accept that disability changes lives, that some things are more difficult to achieve- but the key is in the word difficult not impossible!!
Toby is a shining example of how willpower and endeavour help us to succeed. He continues to work tirelessly to raise the awareness of disability, difference and diversity as empowering to all of us.
With the right support it is possible to achieve almost anything you set your sights towards. Just because our packaging is different does not make us any less valuable and a vital cog in that wheel of everyday life.
I truly am so impressed by the way Toby’s plans continue to change and develop- the sky is absolutely the limit and let’s not rule out the stars!!
For all of us – abled and disabled people, the rules are the same, if you work hard and put in lots of effort you get so much more in return. Satisfaction, peace, happiness, motivation, pride and a sense of fulfillment.
My motto has always been;
‘It’s not what happens to you, but what you do about it!’
Nobody promised us that life would be easy, but as Toby shows us, the struggle is so worth it.”
Simon Weston OBE
Financial support is vital in allowing us to recruit workshop presenters with disabilities across the UK. Without them we cannot expand our reach and deliver more workshops in schools and businesses.