Stella Young to stimulate conference ideas

FORMER Stawell woman Stella Young will speak at this year's TEDxSydney, an annual conference devoted to 'ideas worth sharing'.

The comedian, journalist and disability advocate is one of 16 speakers to share ideas at the Opera House on Saturday, April 26.

The program will feature people who aim to change the world by raising thought-provoking ideas and sharing their personal stories.

Ms Young said she was excited about being involved.

She said organisers had been aware of her work for some time and invited her to submit an idea.

Her topic is 'Everything you thought about disability is wrong'.

"My talk is geared towards addressing the idea that disabled people are used as objects for inspiration," Ms Young said.

"With social media, people have a tendency to share images of disabled people doing ordinary things that most people do -  for example running - and using them as a way to motivate non-disabled people.

"Their point is that if people with 'extra challenges' can do these things, then able-bodied people have no excuse not to."

Ms Young said this objectified disabled people.

"It makes assumptions about what our lives are like," she said.

Ms Young believes treating disabled people as 'special' is unintentionally harmful and insulting.

It is a topic that provides her with plenty of fodder for her stand-up shows.

Ms Young made her solo Melbourne International Comedy Festival debut on March 26.

She said her show, Tales from the Crip, had been well received.

“It’s been great,” she said.

“It’s been selling out and I’m getting good reviews.” 

Tales from the Crip will play alternate nights in Northcote Town Hall until April 20.

Ms Young said growing up as a disabled person automatically made her stand out.

“I look different, so I’m on display and people stare at me,” she said.

“I decided if people were going to stare, they could do it while I was on stage with a microphone in my hand – that way they would have to listen to me too.”

Born and raised in Stawell – she moved to Melbourne at 17 to attend university – Ms Young was an activist from an early age.

At 14, she ran an access audit of shops in Stawell’s main street.

Since then she has been active in the disability community in a variety of roles and has hosted eight seasons of Australia’s first disability culture program No Limits.

Along with juggling stand-up comedy and appearances on the ABC’s panel current affairs show Q and A, Ms Young edits ABC’s Ramp Up website – an online space for news, discussion and opinion about disability in Australia.

Ms Young said people could visit tedxsydney.com for more information about the conference.

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