‘You should never have been born’
That’s what the bullies at school said to me –
so yes, I know what it feels like to be bullied.
But I also know that when someone makes you feel worthless, you have a choice.
You can accept it, and let them make you feel bad, or you can choose to stand up to it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!
Today, I’m one of seven Change Champions for ENABLE Scotland’s #BetheChange campaign, which is about more than standing up to bullies.
We first launched the #BetheChange campaign back in 2014.
To begin with, we tackled the language that people use when bullying someone who has a learning disability.
Now, with funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, we want to confront the bullies and help them to change their behaviour.
That’s what #changethroughunderstanding means.
It’s Anti-Bullying Week 2017 and I had the pleasure of visiting Auchmuty High School in Glenrothes on Monday.
I was there to host a #changethroughunderstanding session with S2 pupils.
I want people to stop and think about the person they’re bullying.
That person isn’t just a disability; they’re not the label you choose to give them.
They are a person, with feelings, hopes and dreams, just like everyone else.
When I talked to the S2 pupils at Auchmuty High School earlier this week, I could see they were curious.
They knew I was different, but they weren’t sure why. They asked questions about my disability, a rare Syndrome known as Soto’s Syndrome.
I told them that I went to school just like them, sat exams just like them and now I’m at College.
We looked at photographs of people who have a disability, but also have lots of skills and talents. By the end of my talk, the pupils remembered the skills and talents of those individuals, not their disability.
I felt great when I left the session. I knew the pupils had a different impression of me than they did when I first arrived.
This is what #changethroughunderstading is all about. Children need to learn about disability before they form pre-conceived ideas and start to see disability as a negative.
We can all be guilty of ‘judging a book by its cover’. We’ve all done it, even me!
But we can all stop for a minute. We can all take the time to get to know the person and not the disability.
We can all #BetheChange!