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Why JFS is promoting disability awareness

Students have initiated a week of events to promote inclusion

    From left: Indi Padda, acting headteacher Simon Appleman, Max Morris and Maya Robinson
    From left: Indi Padda, acting headteacher Simon Appleman, Max Morris and Maya Robinson

    Six months ago, I overheard a conversation between a group of students and a teacher about their experiences of disability. They were commenting on the lack of awareness of disability and I felt compelled to share my own experiences. 

    My sister Ruby has Down’s Syndrome and I have watched her grow and develop and achieve some incredible things, such as winning a gold medal at the National Disability Acrobatics Championships two years running. 

    I feel lucky to have Ruby as my sister — not only has she brought a lot of laughter into my life, but she has also taught me to be a more open-minded and patient person. 

    However, I have also come to realise that many people are ignorant about disability and that several other students shared this view. Our conversation triggered an idea and led to the development of a “Visibility for Disability” week. 

    A group of like-minded students and I decided to take on the task of promoting disability awareness through a week of events, activities and discussions. Our goal was to improve understanding of disability and to promote inclusion across the school community. 

    We have worked tirelessly to involve as many people as possible. We hope to inspire conversations and to lessen the stigma around disability.

    I am amazed at how this project has blossomed over just a few months. The team, with the support of Miss Padda (deputy lead of music at JFS), has continued to grow and I am so proud of all their hard work to create a platform for people to share their experiences and perspectives. 

    Ignorance leads to discrimination and our aim is to inform through discussion about disability. This is just a small step in creating a more knowledgeable and inclusive community, but we believe it can make a difference. 

    Our team of students, ranging from year eight to year 13, hopes our message will extend beyond JFS and inspire others to promote similar values in their communities.  

    The whole school has been involved in activities this week, which has included talks by external speakers, inclusive sports events, Ted-style talks by students and staff and a sign-language workshop. A “Visibility for Disability” display has showcased art and photography, inspired by disability, from students and teachers. 

    All PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) lessons this week have focused on this important area with materials written by students. We have chosen a multicoloured butterfly as the logo for the project, which we feel embodies the idea that difference and uniqueness should be celebrated.  

    Simon Appleman, acting headteacher, says, “I am deeply proud of the work undertaken by our students. When they first made their proposal, the only answer I could give was yes, such was their enthusiasm and dedication. 

    “The co-ordinating committee has shown a level of commitment and ambition that is both heartening and inspiring, reaching the entire JFS community and beyond.”

    Maya Robinson is a year-12 pupil at JFS