“Mum, why is that lady in a wheelchair?”
It’s a question I’ve overheard being asked by innocent kids hundreds of times. The child looks quite weary of me and I pretend not to be listening as Mum quietly explains I have something ‘wrong’ with my legs. Or that my legs don’t ‘work’ properly. Mum is a little embarrassed whilst their little one remains unsatisfied. These hushed conversations always make me smile. None of the answers given offend me and I understand Mum’s embarrassment but I sympathise with the child’s curiosity.
As a child, I experienced bullying at school on a number of occasions. Nothing too serious but it was bullying all the same. At the time, it hurt although I tried to rise above it. As an adult, it’s easier to understand why these other kids picked on me. They simply didn’t understand why I was different, nobody had explained disability to them. For unless children grow up with a disabled sibling or relative, it can be difficult for them to understand why someone is disabled and how they should react to disability.
And it’s these experiences that have inspired me to develop my Disability Awareness for Children Sessions. Equality and Diversity are now vital issues in every workplace and it’s important that children, particularly teenagers, are given the opportunity to explore these issues before they enter into employment. The sessions provide participants with an opportunity to ask me any questions they have and dispel some of the myths which still surround disabled people.
I recently provided one such session for a group of teenagers who were hosting a sporting event for a number of people, many of whom had disabilities. The group weren’t particularly fond of classroom sessions, much preferring to be outside so I was a little apprenhensive about holding their attention. I need not have worried. The group were very attentive and I was later told, it was the most engaged they had been in a classroom for a long time!
Their tutor said: “Aideen delivered a fantastic session that focused very much on an interactive session. The feedback was fantastic…and they learnt alot about working with others with disabilities.”
To find out more, please visit Flyinglady