Get to know Sulaiman

In October 2020, we invited Sulaiman and Leah to take over our social media channels to speak directly to our beneficiaries and their families. Messages from our Ambassadors resonated well within our community during a difficult period, and remain some of the most engaged activity with comments, and memories being shared by everyone. Here’s what Sulaiman had to say:

With over 35-years lived-experience of disability and over 10-years experience in the creative industries, because of my innate sense of solidarity and desire for justice, I work tirelessly to ignite, invest in, and amplify disabled creativity across the world for a Just tomorrow for disabled people. And I am an active (non-optical) intersectional accomplice-in-progress and a continual work-in-progress too, relentlessly and unapologetically.

After graduating from university in 2012, I spent three years looking for work in the advertising and creative industries. For the most part, I found this already challenging industry to crack into was rife with even more challenges for someone with a disability. The struggle to find work and acceptance as someone who wanted to work and contribute to society, but due to ableism and inaccessibility, I was left feeling a lack of confidence and deflated. I did find a job three years after graduation, but the barriers were still there, and I found myself out of work again after eight months.

So, as well as being a Muscle Ambassador, I am the Founder and Chief Purpose Officer of This Ability, which is a disability-led equity business.

Sulaiman with Muscle Help Foundation CEO Michael McGrath

I first heard of the charity through an ad on a Muscular Dystrophy UK network for the 2012 Games Inspired Muscle Dreams, and I thought this looks cool. I think people were meant to apply on behalf of someone else, but I like writing, so submitted my own application – it didn’t say I couldn’t! I then received a call that changed my life. It was from Michael to say congrats that I had been selected to participate in this magical Muscle Dream.

Going to the games was a wonderful experience to get involved with. It came three days after my grandad died and I’d considered not going. However, I’m glad my parents pushed me to go and get involved, as I met so many incredible people that I’m still close friends with today. The love, good vibes, and magnificent memories were just the perfect healing I needed.

Sulaiman with Muscle Warrior Volunteer Will

Being part of the Muscle Warrior family gives me an enhanced sense of community and pride. There’s a sense of commitment to help raise awareness of my disability and Muscular Dystrophy. Having people I can connect to and relate to in terms of supporting each other and creating experiences together is so valuable.

These experiences can help young people and children to change their lives. I believe it’s incredible what the charity does, it’s completely different from most charities out there. The majority of people and organisations don’t look at the present, a lot of them look at finding the cure. Many people don’t want a cure, we want a good life today and to be able to participate in society. To have an absolutely incredible experience, like the ones MHF puts together, can truly make you feel that people care about you.

Having an experience like that helps you address a lot of things in your life beyond the 1 or 2 days of the Muscle Dream Experience.

My favourite memory of being a Muscle Warrior would have to be being part of the Games Inspired Dreams in 2012. It was such a magical experience just to have access to. On the first day of the Dream, we had a hotel stay and had a celebration with all the other families who were there. And on the second day, we went to the Paralympic Games, and I watched the Paralympic swimming in the morning and the Wheelchair Rugby in the afternoon. The Wheelchair Rugby was intense to watch, but utterly enthralling!

It was such an extraordinary time to experience, and I just remember thinking ‘wow, this is awesome.’ I don’t think I realised how much so until a few weeks later. It’s something I will not forget, particularly after losing grandad three days before.

To have those kinds of experiences, especially for disabled people, you don’t have many of those times of just being present in the moment. Moments of not focusing on looking after each other or being so distracted you’re not taking in what’s happening around you.

Sulaiman Khan – MHF Ambassador

I do everything because of (not despite) my disability. Often, with a disability, or Muscular Dystrophy, the over-arching narrative disabled people face is ‘they overcame it’ or ‘did something despite it’.

That’s so destructive and dangerous for young people – but for me (the older I get), 100%, yes, my disability DOES define me, but it DOESN’T confine me.

So, my message to other Muscle Warriors and their families right now would be to be kinder to yourself in everything you do. In this challenging time don’t forget we’re all here for each other and keep pushing forward. Don’t feel alone either and let your light shine bright. The world is ours. Rumi said it best: “Do not feel lonely, the entire universe is inside you.”

SO, ALWAYS: Be bold, be wild, and be fearless. We got this.

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