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I was asked to do an interview / blog post for an organistaion called Plan which promotes child rights to end child poverty.  I was delighted to be asked as it allows an opportunity to support and raise awareness for something I feel very strongly about.

The full post can be viewed here.

” I believe in being resilient and turning setbacks into comebacks”

Sinead Kane is a PhD Researcher in the School of Education at Dublin City University. She is studying a teacher’s legal duty of care concerning school bullying inside and outside of school. Sinead completed her law degree (BCL) and masters in law (LLM) in University College Cork. Sinead is also a: Qualified Solicitor, Certified Mediator, Writer with the Irish Criminal Law Journal, Motivational Speaker, Ultrarunner.

Sinead can be found online at www.sineadkane.ie and tweets at @kaneSinead

Because I am a Girl I ask … why are women with disabilities not visible in leadership positions such as law, education, politics, business, media…..I look forward to the day where there is more visibility to highlight to young girls that barriers such as disability and gender can be overcome.

Because I am a Girl I believe … in the importance of honesty, integrity and not being afraid to stand up for what you believe in. I believe that education is the most important tool for independent growth. I believe in being resilient and turning setbacks into comebacks. I believe that adversity is not hardship it is the means by which we can learn life lessons.

Because I am a Girl I hope … that women with disabilities are given the same choices and opportunities as other women and men.

Because I am a Girl I wonder … about how solutions can be achieved for women all around the globe with disabilities who face “double discrimination” because of their disability and their status as a woman.

Because I am a Girl I dream … of a flexible career which allows me to determine when my working day ends. A career which will allow me to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Because I am a Girl I remember …as a child being bullied by my peers because of my disability. I remember other girls who ignored me and I felt very isolated. I remember as I went through my teens I found I was not expected to have adolescent feelings of sexuality or wish to wear pretty things. A disabled woman was a neutered sexual being and a dependent on society. I remember children and adults who didn’t have belief in me. I remember at 17 years of age my career advisor telling me not to study law because I would never be able to manage because it was a reading based subject. Despite her thoughts I went onto to gain a law degree, a masters in law, qualify as Ireland’s first visually impaired solicitor and also qualified as a mediator. I remember I worked hard at school but never felt good at anything and this began to undermine my confidence. My disability restricts me only to the extent that if I want to achieve something, I have to work twice as hard as an able-bodied person. What I do achieve may not be perfect but I persist and do not give up.

Because I am a Girl I like … having my independence. I am not dependent on any man nor will I ever be. I am a strong, confident woman. I like my surname and don’t see why women feel pressure to change their surname to a man’s surname upon being married.

Because I am a Girl I dislike … knowing that girls in developing countries face further challenges than women in developed countries. Women and girls with disabilities – whether physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory – are often hidden in their homes, denied the right to be married, to attend school or get a job. I also dislike bedgrudugary by other women. the constant pressure placed on girls and women to look, behave or act a certain way. The styling, airbrushing, headlines, commentary, judging and yes I have even been guilty of it myself. This judging is especially experienced by girls and women with disabilities who have ‘different’ bodies. Often they feel pressure to change how they look and experience great pain in doing so.

Because I am a Girl I feel … people with disabilities can be denied the right to participation in society, by being absent from education, the workforce, media and politics. They are often prevented from voting, standing for election to public office, and civic participation. Stereotypes about the ability of people with disabilities to make decisions are further barriers to political participation and having a voice, while exclusion from society can lead to isolation and neglect. I also feel the most important facts that some people seem to disregard is that although physically different, mentally I am not disabled. I share the same hopes, anxieties, fears and general emotions with women the world over. Many people have supposed that because I am obviously disabled I am mentally sub-normal and have therefore treated me as they would someone of low intelligence or as a child.

Because I am a Girl I celebrate … my ability to be an advocate for myself and other people. I celebrate standing up for myself and fighting for my rights. I celebrate having self-belief in myself and not allowing others trying to take away my self-confidence. I celebrate having a positive mindset. I couldn’t control being born with a disability but I can choose how I live my life. I choose to be visionary not blind. I celebrate the greatest gift you can give yourself is self-acceptance.

The views expressed in all blogs, are those of the authors only and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of Plan Ireland

Sinead - 2nd June 2014 Sinead and guide Kieran Sinead and Kieran Kieran Ola Sinead

Very happy with my run today! My 1st half marathon. I wanted to do it under 2hrs and I did it in 1hr 49mins so I was ahead of myself by 11mins. I am very happy!! I couldn’t have done it without the great help of my running guide Kieran!! Also thank you to Donie Walsh at Leevale running club, who is a legend for continually supporting me and encouraging me to believe in myself!! All those nights of sprinting around the track in the lashing rain has paid off.

April 2014 – Motivational Speech

Thank you to the Cork ETB – education & training board who had me as a guest speaker! Really enjoyed the event! Very grateful.

Appreciate your challenges

I have lost count of the number of times people have said to me over Christmas and around New Years Eve  ”There is no pint making New Years resolutions as I wont stick to them.” If I had a euro for each time I heard this sentence I would be rich. Such sentences would then normally follow with statements such as: ‘Sure it’s easy for you to keep your goals you’re a positive person.’ It’s hard for even the most positive person to stay motivated.

Listening

Recently, I was having coffee with a friend. We laughed and joked and then started to talk about our goals for 2013. Suddenly the atmosphere changed. The beautiful smile that was on my friend’s face was gone. My friend has been out of work for a long while now. The look of pain was etched all over his face. My friend began to openly cry in front of me – something which I wasn’t expecting. He told me that he couldn’t keep going job-hunting in 2013 because he had lost hope. Rejection had won. The fear of what lies ahead in 2013 overwhelms him. As the great Zig Ziglar once said: F.E.A.R  has two meanings: 1. Forget Everything And Run or 2. Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours. What I learnt from the situation with my friend is that sometimes we just need to listen to others. Listening can be a form of advice which provides much needed comfort. Active listening is when we give our full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting.

Motivation
Inevitably there will be times when you feel down and want to give up, when it seems every job you want is out of your reach, when you don’t get shortlisted for a job you thought you were sure to get. The important thing to remember is that if you give up you definitely will fail, but if you keep going you will succeed eventually.

Challenges

Remember, appreciating something doesn’t necessarily mean we like or enjoy it. Appreciation means that we recognize the value of it. By learning to appreciate our challenges and see the opportunities in them, we take our power back from the situations and circumstances of our lives. Our ability to appreciate difficulties, learn from them, and use them to our advantage, gives us an important insight into who we really are and how to create success and fulfillment in a conscious and deliberate way.

Reframe Challenges

What if we could learn to see life’s challenges in a whole new light? What if we could learn to see them as highly beneficial experiences, adventures in learning, or even as a blessing in disguise? Wouldn’t that be a welcome shift? The truth is, with the right mental attitude we can completely reframe the way we experience challenges. With a little practice we can come to view challenges as some of our most valuable life experiences.

Action: What You Can Do

Make a list of some of the biggest challenges in your life right now. What can you appreciate about each of these difficulties? What are you learning from them? What are you able to appreciate in yourself and your life because of these things? Learning to appreciate challenges is not easy, because we have a tendency to want the easy way out. But when we have no alternative routes, take on the challenges. See how it makes you a better person.

No one ever said job search was easy. It may be one of the toughest projects you work on! Looking for a job is like running your own business? Both require vision, time management, a good product or service, a clearly defined message, salesmanship, and confidence! Oh, they require a plan too. It is quite difficult for one person to master all these skills. Everyday new businesses are started and while many fail, there are many that thrive and reach amazing heights. Let’s look at ways that your growth can meet business growth to help you in your job search.

Personal Growth – we all have good, bad, and even ugly sides to us. Celebrate your strengths and positive qualities by clearly communicating them. In other words, stop being so humble. Personally, I don’t think you should hide the things that make you different. This is part of the vision and branding of you. Know what makes you different and present the best of you! We all have opportunities for self-improvement, but don’t obsess over these. Know where your weaknesses lie and develop a plan to fix them over time. A new business would refer to this as branding and sales! Job hunting is a process of learning and personal growth. Yes, personal growth. Job searching demands more and more patience, motivation, and belief in your own abilities. When there is so much competition out there for jobs it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Your job search process is always evolving and given the uniqueness of each application, there seems to be no end to learning in the process.

Clearly defined message – be sure that what you want and what the employer offer are the same. Find out if your values are similar to the culture and values of the companies you are pursuing. Businesses have project and implementation plans that they regularly evaluate what is working and what is not in order to adjust what they are doing.

Market Research – a business wouldn’t release a new product into the marketplace not knowing their target market. Part of your role during job search is to conduct market research in order to understand what the demand is for your skills/service. When you begin talking to people and learning about the problems they face in their departments or companies, you are listening and learning. It is highly likely that you will see instances where your experience, successes and skills would help solve some of the problems they’ve identified. Thus, use this as your opportunity to grow. Even if the particularly company doesn’t have any job vacancies listed then still send them a cover letter with your resume or try get networking with people who work in the company.

Plan what does a job search have in common with a business?  The correct response is that they both need a plan, a vision, and a strategy for ‘success.’ Run your job search like a business. Begin your job search with a strategic plan.  A strategic plan for a business is one that follows the criteria set out in its Vision, Mission, Goal and Objectives.  You should have a similar strategic plan for your job search.  Think of your plan as follows:

  1. Vision – Where you would like to be in the future.
  2. Mission – Purpose of existence to Achieve the Vision
  3. Goals – Goals are broad statements of desired outcomes to achieve the vision and mission, example to get a job.
  4. Objective – An objective is the measurable component of a goal.  The difference between a goal and an objective is measurement. Objectives are action oriented with a timeline example of an objective – you will distribute your resume to 20 organizations within seven days.

Put together a job search plan. Define your vision and mission.  Make it simple to start.  Choose a limited number of broad goals. Your plan will become your road map to job search success.

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