A YOUNG performer taking part in MAST Mayflower Studios' production of Peter Pan is encouraging people to not let their disability hold them back.

Jack Hayes, 16, a student from Eastleigh, has cerebral palsy and has lived his life in a wheelchair since he was two.

But this has not stopped him from pursuing his dream of becoming a performer and Jack has danced his way onto one of Southampton's main stages.

Jack said: "I have done this (performing) for years. Before I went to college I did a lot of performances at secondary school. I say to myself, 'just go for it!' and I try my best and give it all I've got.

"In auditions, I showcase who I am and hopefully people will be appreciative of that and want to explore it in the show.

"Peter Pan is such a good experience. The more shows I do and the more experience I get, the more confident I am, every single time.

"I just love to inspire people and if people like me watch me perform and think 'I thought I could never do that' then I am encouraging and inspiring them.

"What has also helped my confidence is being part of a wheelchair dance group in Winchester called Liberate. I have done that for two years.

"I have always loved dance but when I was young I thought I couldn't be a dancer, so joining Liberate, made for people like me, has really inspired other people and myself.

"It doesn't matter what people say, you can do it."

Jack's mum Aimee Hayes "fully supports" Jack in his performing endeavours and thinks it is important for him to encourage and inspire other people.

She said: "I fully support Jack in everything he wants to do. Seeing him on stage and enjoying it is an amazing feeling for me as a mum. It's so rewarding to see that Jack can do it.

"I try and encourage him to take part in things like this. He throws himself into it all and there's no stopping him. We want to encourage others like Jack to go for it.

"In all of the reviews I have seen of Peter Pan so far, there is not one mention of a cast member being in a wheelchair. People see Jack, not the wheelchair."