Disability activist, award-winning blogger and Leeds Trinity alumna, Chloe Tear, has been shortlisted for a Special Achievement Award at the 2020 British Education Awards.
21-year-old Chloe, who graduated with a first-class honour's degree in Psychology and Child Development in July 2019, writes and speaks about her experiences of living with Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain and Visual Cortex Disorder to help others better understand about the range of disabilities she lives with.
"I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy aged seven and began experiencing chronic pain at 15", said Chloe. "When I started at Leeds Trinity my sight deteriorated and I was registered as partially sighted. Life has always been a challenge, but I rarely let my disabilities stop me from achieving what I want to achieve. My aim is to change public attitudes and break stereotypes around disability, so that's what I try to do."
To raise awareness of her disabilities, Chloe developed Life as a Cerebral Palsy student, her award-winning blog, and has written for 70 publications including Times Higher, BBC and the UK's leading disability magazine, Able. She's delivered presentations to health professionals and parents whose children have Cerebral Palsy, delivered sessions in schools with national disability charity Scope, sat on national panels about access within higher education, and been involved with national campaigns for Scope and RNIB to change attitudes around disability.
She's done all of this whilst studying, first at Prince Henry's Grammar School in Otley, where she also completed her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and became Assistant Head Girl, and then at Leeds Trinity University where she studied full-time for a degree and took on the role of Disabilities Officer in the Students' Union. During her final year at Leeds Trinity, Chloe also began freelancing and getting paid for her work – but switching her mindset from volunteering and writing as a hobby, to getting paid for her time was difficult for Chloe.
"I don't do it because I get paid for it, I do it because I enjoy it", said Chloe. "People started offering to pay me and I realised that I could turn my hobby into a profession; I just needed to value my time more. If I want to do more and make a full-time career of writing and speaking about disability, I need to get paid."
To support her freelancing career, Chloe was awarded £500 through the University's Inspiring Futures Programme Enterprise Fund in December 2019. She'll use the money for professional headshots and business cards, to host her website and learn more about SEO.
"To receive funding from the Inspiring Futures Programme means so much," added Chloe. "My blog and activism work are extremely important to me, to know I have the support from my university really does give me that push to make it a career.
"I hope to use the fund to better my work, have a wider reach and continue to challenge public attitudes about disability."
Greg Barnes, Head of Department for Business and Law at Leeds Trinity University, said: "Every entrepreneur's dream is to make money from doing something they love, so we're delighted to support Chloe as she makes the transition from voluntary to paid work. As Chloe inspires young people and parents across the country, we're pleased to be able to support her through our Inspiring Futures Programme."
Chloe will attend the 2020 British Education Awards in Manchester on 30 January. Find out more about the British Education Awards and Leeds Trinity University's Inspiring Futures Programme.