Wobbling About and Rocking Out strives to inspire and motivate the disabled and mental health community to feel more confident in their everyday lives via inspiring stories and accessibility training for businesses and venues.
We already know so many people with disabilities that are doing amazing things and totally rocking it!
So, we thought:
Why not spread the word and equip even more incredible individuals with the confidence and helpful industry knowledge to fulfil their dreams, and then some?
Through articles, digital content and specially-crafted clothing, WARO actively promotes creative talent, whether you are a musician, artist, designer, developer or entrepreneur.
In the coming months, we’ll be speaking with some truly extraordinary people and sharing their remarkable stories with you.
But, to continue building this awesome family, we want to hear from you too.
Everyone is welcome to get in touch with us on Twitter and #RockDisability.
Here, we speak to artists and innovators from around the globe about their success despite dealing with mental health issues and/or disabilities.
Dom Smith catches up with Alex Liu to talk about his ‘A Sexplanation’ documentary that examines how sex is taught in American schools, and more…
To right the wrongs of his all-American sex education, 36-year-old health reporter Alex Liu goes on a quest to uncover naked truths and hard facts—no matter how awkward it gets.
From neuroscience labs to church pews, the film features provocative conversations with psychologists, sex researchers—and even a Jesuit priest. With humor and grit, Alex takes audiences on a playful, heartfelt journey from a shame-filled past to a happier, healthier, sexier future.
Like many Americans in the 90s, the adults in Alex’s life taught him that abstinence made him good. These tactics worked to suppress his sexuality—all the more because he was gay. But ultimately, years of repression disconnected him from his body, his desires, and his family. Now in his 30s, Alex still hasn’t outgrown these hang-ups. The fearmongering from school, media, and religion continues to permeate throughout his life—in both big ways and small. Fed up, Alex decides it’s time to turn years of fear and loathing into something positive and humorous.
A Sexplanation follows his pursuit of shame-free pleasure and call for comprehensive sex education. Along the way, he’s surprised to discover it’s never too late to have “The Talk”—even with the parents he’s kept at a distance.
Dom Smith talks to D3T’s Head of Engineering Phil Owen about the workplace culture, and what developments are being made to support diversity and inclusion.
“Success to me, is creating something that makes other people happy,” says Phil, when reflecting on how he defines success in the video game industry. “You can look at sales and profit, but from my point of view, it’s about making people happy, and the same goes for my ‘out of work time’.”
How does Phil work to make himself happy then? “You’ve got to surround yourself with good people, who are like-minded. It’s also about making the most of any opportunity you get.”
In terms of the opportunities that he had when breaking in to the games industry, Phil reflects on how getting work has changed since the start of his career in the early 90s: “I was super lucky when I got into the industry, my journey was not standard in any way. I taught myself to program during the early stages of home computers. I was really interested in games then, and I wanted to start making them.”
Phil went away to university without an idea of how to get into the games industry, but (as luck would have it) as he was a “good golfer”, he won a lot of competitions, and “by chance” one competition, he was paired with someone who already worked in the industry: “We got talking about games, and what I was doing at uni, as well as the areas I was interested in. He offered me work for 50 quid a week, and I said, ‘Yeah, of course!’ and that’s how I got in.”
Phil understands that for students and graduates now, getting into the games industry is extremely hard, and is realistic when it comes to taking advantage of chances: “Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you have to grab that opportunity with both hands, and don’t let go.”
When discussing what types of things he’d like to see from any student, or person getting involved in gaming, he stresses the importance of a good portfolio: “I want to see a passion for making games, and if you’re on a degree course, not just saying, ‘here’s the work I did at uni’, I want to see other work as well. I like to see enthusiasm, and passion. Not only in games, but an interest in us [at D3T].”
This all adds up to a key point that Phil makes around the importance of “being yourself” when meeting him, or going for interviews: “Don’t pretend to be someone that you think I want to see, because a massive part of working in a games studio is contributing to culture, and environment. It is very important that you are good at what you do, and understand the culture and environment of creative people.” Phil continues on, saying that if someone comes in, ideally they will have researched D3T, the games that they’ve made and who the team members are, as it will only help a person’s chances of getting work.
Tracking his own development from a junior developer to a Head of Department, Phil comments that he’s learned a lot during his progression: “One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was how to delegate, and how to get the best out of a team. That’s a difficult skill, and takes time to learn.”
Reflecting on his biggest challenge, Phil looks to Lego City when he worked at Traveller’s Tales (TT Games), and how hard it was creating an open-world area like that: “We were able to solve some significant problems and fill the world with life.” As lead programmer, Phil is most proud of that game: “It’s the game I look back on most fondly because we solved so many problems as best we could.”
Moving on to discuss the importance of location in the gaming industry and whether it matters at all, Phil says that the North West has been a “hot bed” for a long time. “My whole career has been in the North West, I haven’t moved anywhere else. I’ve had chance to go to America and Australia, I stayed where my family was and where I like to work. What matters is what games you want to work on, and how creative you want to be.”
Moving on to examine how the games industry has changed to embrace accessibility and diversity over the last few years, Phil says: “The thing that I always notice is how fast and quick the games industry adapts and moves, in all areas. We push these things forward. Society has changed for the better in terms of mental health and understanding that as well as accessibility and gender diversity. [The games industry] is a very welcoming place.”
In terms of D3T and its ethos when it comes to supporting creative and driven staff, Phil says simply and proudly, “we look after each other”, he continues: “We help, and we form ideas. We create, and we want to do the best for each other. D3T believes in a sense of belonging. We do so much to bring everyone together as much as we possibly can. We work hard, and love what we do.”
Racing legend Guy Smith retired as a factory driver in 2017, after a stellar career spanning 3 decades, including winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003 and the American Le Mans Series in 2011.
Even though he might no longer be out on the track permanently among the action, that doesn’t mean Guy, brother of Wobblin’ About and Rockin’ Out founder Dom, has left the sport behind completely.
“As I’ve got older I’ve learnt more about the business side – when I started out go karting, it was just about going as fast as possible, but now, the further you get into the sport, you realise you’re actually a business and the driving is a small part,” says Guy of how interlinked the worlds of business and motorsport actually are, with so many skills transferable due to the commercial nature of motorsport in today’s world.
“It’s about understanding your craft,” he explains, and knowing what you need to do to be successful. Motorsport is an incredibly expensive passion, and in order to climb up the rankings, you must have some sponsorship or be a brand ambassador, like Guy. “As a driver, social media is so important, they look at my social media to find my reach, and you’re an extension of that brand, something I didn’t think I’d be talking about as a racing driver, but it’s part of the job now.”
He knew he wanted to go into the business branch of the sport and set up his company Greenlight Sports Management in 2020 where he now mentors and supports new young drivers working their way up the ranks, hoping to have the kind of career he had. Guy says there are two key traits when aiming for success as a racing driver: hard work and being humble. “It’s about hard work like anything. Whatever you choose to do, you get out what you put in. I’ve seen so many good drivers with no work ethic. They’ve been amazing but expected it to fall their way, and not pursued it, not worked hard and not achieved a successful career. But there are others who are not the best but have worked hard and have had a career in motorsport. You can apply it to anything, musicians, or football. Some go off the rails or fall by the wayside. A great work ethic is so important, you’ve got to have that dedication and love what you do. At the end of the day, if you don’t love what you do, you’re not gonna be successful. It’s important to be humble and have an appreciation for what you do.”
Having taken up karting in 1986, it wasn’t an easy ride for Guy to the top, with his first senior win not coming until 1995 as British Formula Renault Champion. That same year, he tested with the Williams Formula One team at Silverstone for the first time. From then on, his career went from strength to strength, winning PPG Rookie of the Year in 1999, with his 24 hours Le Mans victory following just four years later in 2003 for Bentley with co-drivers Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello. Teamwork is something that Guy values very highly both in his professional and personal lives. “Within your team you have mechanics and engineers, working together to get a goal. It’s important finding what your skillset is, what you’re good at and not good at and trying to get the people in to fill those gaps.” He finds that teamwork is one of the many skills he was able to transfer from the world of motorsport to the world of business, particularly as he was a business in himself with all of the sponsorship, social media and brand engagement that is now expected of racing drivers if they want to reach the summit.
Although he would not win Le Mans again, he finished in second place the following year before transferring to the American Le Mans series and Dyson Racing in 2005, where he would race for seven years before winning in 2011 with Dyson Racing alongside co-driver Chris Dyson. He won Road America in 2012, recording the closest ever ALMS race finish, with this seemingly being a very successful racetrack for Guy, after he had recorded the two fastest laps there in 2006.
When asked what success means to him, from both a career and personal point of view, Guy sees it as two very different kettles of fish. “It’s really important to differentiate the two,” he says. As an athlete, he saw success in very much a solid form, as it was measured by ways of wins, statistics, performances, and trophies. Despite this, he is quick to point out during our chat that some of his best performances did not always show as his best results. In his personal life, Guy is very open with his meaning of success. “We all want to be happy and content. I know a lot of drivers who are successful in sport but unhappy in life. I listen to a lot of podcasts – they say people are searching for fulfilment through sports and adulation for what they do. As I get older, it’s not about the short-lived wins, being content and happier in yourself, and living more in the moment. That’s what I would class as success.”
For someone that has had such a glittering career, there must be some great motivations, such as watching his father who was a successful businessman while he was growing up. “I take a lot of inspiration from music – you get that buzz of endorphins which make you think I want to do this and that. I think having external influences are really important. Music is a big motivator for me.” Guy’s favourite music genre is rap, but he does admit that whatever his mood is often dictates what he wants to listen to.
Something that has perhaps been in the background of motorsport for many years is mental health awareness. With society now becoming more and more open about talking about people’s mental health, Guy says that everyone has their bad days, even himself, and that the level of awareness in motorsport has really improved over the last few years. “Some days it’s a great day, other days it’s raining outside, you don’t want to do anything. I think what’s important is knowing you are not alone, everyone has days like that, it’s not unusual, it just gets hidden better by others. It’s important to have good friends around, people you can talk to. I’m lucky, I’ve got my wife, we’ll talk about stuff if I’m having a bad day. It’s so important talking about stuff.”
He feels that motorsport can be quite lonely, given that you are always out for yourself. “There are usually two cars per team and it’s you against your teammate, you want to beat them so there’s that rivalry. It’s quite a lonely road, we’re left to our own devices.”
He admits that the sport has improved its mental health awareness in recent years. “When I first started it was never discussed or even mentioned – but in the last 5/6 years it’s become more accepted to talk about it, with more people to talk to. People are a lot more open and more prepared to sharing their feelings and it’s not a taboo subject, it’s a real-life situation.”
There is a danger to motorsport but having a team of qualified mechanics and engineers that you trust is vital, particularly in big races such as Le Mans or Oval. “We’re not thinking what’s gonna happen if I die? You can’t think like that, or you’d never do it. It’s about having respect, I think the mechanics put the cars together, they are well put together and safe but freak things do happen. I think you are aware [of the risk] but aren’t focused on it too much. Once the helmet is on in the car, that’s a great trigger for forgetting everything.” Guy has seen some tragedy over the years, losing friends to accidents on the track. He’s quick to be clear that racing is not as glamorous as it seems, and that it’s all about the work behind the scenes, which makes any victory sweeter.
Now with his company Green Light, Guy mentors up and coming young drivers such as Jess Edgar. Although they don’t have an F1 driver on their books just yet, Guy has spotlighted Jess as “a star of the future” and hopes that it could happen in the next few years.
When asked for his top tips for young drivers, Guy has just three: “Don’t be cocky…work hard and be humble.” Racing can be a tough reality for those that don’t make it to the top, but Guy is clear: “If they don’t make it but they’ve given it everything that’s all I expect from them.”
The topic of mental health is becoming more and more relevant in today’s society. Lots of us look for answers about how we can improve our mental state, particularly with conditions such as anxiety and depression becoming frequent parts of our lives. Music has long been considered as a way to help keep those demons in our consciousness away, and there are many different ways in which it can be used to great positive effect.
A 2011 study found that music releases dopamine, the chemical that makes you feel good, when we listen to it, or play it ourselves. It has been discovered that the release of dopamine is increased by 9% when people are listening to music that they love.
Typically, music has been used as a way of dealing with conditions such as depression, addiction, trauma, and grief. Most people who have these pent up, heavy emotions find solace in music as it provides us with an anchor to link our emotions to, and a way to let out all these emotions that might be too difficult to otherwise comprehend or deal with.
People who suffer with anxiety have also been known to use music as a calming agent, with classical or easy listening described as the most popular genres in these situations. Although this might be expected, most people with anxiety are advised to stay away from heavy rock or any genre that might cause a rise in heart rate or stress. This can sometimes not be the case, as some tend to find comfort in a song’s lyrical content rather than the music, as they can relate to the song writing, so the type of music becomes irrelevant in this case.
Notably, there are five ways that music can help with any mental health issues that we may be facing, according to experts in the field. These are: elevates mood and motivation, reduces stress, improves focus, helps relaxation, reduces anxiety and depression. Most of these are common and well-known positives for using music to support mental health but it is useful to know exactly why music is so key for our mental states to remain healthy.
Using music as a way to channel emotions and thoughts can also clear our mental slate and make something beautiful out of something that we can only see as negative. Meanings can be said without words through music, by letting the emotive nature of sound and melody say what we can’t. Music and grief are a combination that come together quite naturally as a way to deal with overriding feelings that cannot be articulated purely through speech or action, allowing us to grow and discover our hidden strength as human beings and as people with real, valid feelings.
Music has become therapeutic for many who use it to support their mental health. As such, music therapy is now a distinctive branch of therapy in itself. The British Association of Music Therapy, or BAMT for short, is the body for music therapy in the UK, and provides both professionals and individuals with information, support, training and access to therapists who can provide treatment for mental health through music. They are fully trained professionals, who must be registered and regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council, with a masters degree in music therapy.
This training allows them to tailor their sessions to the individuals, and work in a specific way that suits people with certain conditions.
We spoke to some music therapists from the North West about why music therapy is so important to supporting the mental health crisis we are facing in society right now.
Sarah Morgan is a music therapist based near Preston who specialises in dementia and brain injury therapy. She says that people are starting to recognise mental illness as something that everyone experiences at one time or another in their life, and that it therefore shouldn’t have the stigma that it does. She also talks about how therapeutic we all find music, whether it be in an actual therapy session, or just by listening to our favourite songs when we aren’t feeling quite ourselves. You can see my chat with Sarah and hear more of her comments in the clip below.
Mary Clayton, a music therapist from Music Place North-West, in Liverpool, says that that it is key for people to have the access to music therapy but it can be difficult, whether due to money, or accessing the right support at the right time. She also highlighted that music is a much easier way for people to articulate their emotions when they are too strong or tough to verbally express. “We’ve all been through a collective trauma, and music can help us with dealing with it,” she says, concerning the coronavirus pandemic. “Music therapy provides a unique format for people to have unspoken connections with others and find a way to get across that communication barrier.”
Both therapists made clear that there has been so much research done on the subject, so now there is scientific proof that music does have a significant and positive impact on the mind. “According to neuroscience, music has been shown to light up certain areas of the brain and stimulate it in a different way to other art forms, which shows it can act as a tool in treating some neurological conditions,” Mary says.
It is clear that music is a crucial device that can be used to help people with their mental health and that access to it and therapy which uses it is vital. However, the funding of specialist service such as these are under a lot of strain, as both Mary and Sarah highlighted during our conversations. “Music therapy needs more funding,” Mary tells me, “And at the moment it can’t always be accessed by those who need it, especially given the impact of the last two years.”
One of the things that Mary finds so special about music therapy is the way it focuses on a person’s well-being, and she knows how important it is that that is considered when treating someone with a mental health condition. Mary summed up the usefulness of music therapy in this comment: “Music is so comprehensive, it has many styles, genres, moods, harmonies. It has so many different applications that you can draw from it. There is a lot of flexibility, and less limits than with words.”
Music is always going to be crucial to mental health, and it seems like music therapy is becoming an increasingly popular way of getting treatment, or just using music to help calm yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed with life.
Do you use music to help with your mental health, or with stress and anxiety? Let us know. You can visit www.bamt.org to find a music therapist near you.
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