Tag Archives: young people’s views

Better eating, better learning: Pupils’ views on school food⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Pupil's drawing of an ideal dining room

Pupil's drawing of food circle

Eating well during the school day can really help you to do your best at school. But when chips and chocolate are so easy to get hold of, what’s the best way of supporting pupils to choose healthy foods at school instead?

To find out what pupils think, Children in Scotland recently went to seven different areas of Scotland and listened to 335 pupils aged 5 to 17 talking about what they eat, how much they know about healthy foods and what might encourage them to choose healthy school meals over packed lunches and food from local shops.

Pupils said that they were more likely to go for school meals if there was more choice about what to have, including cheap healthy meal deals, vegetarian food and more juices and fruits to choose from. Some pupils had concerns about the time it took to get served school meals, with some sharing stories of having to wait in long queues when they would rather be hanging out with mates and getting a walk in the fresh air.

The young folk also talked about lots of really bright ideas – both things that some schools are already doing and other new things they could try out – :

  • a ‘Grab and Go’ option where you order your meal in breaktime so you don’t have to queue at lunch.
  • a lunch club in school where pupils get to cook their own lunch.
  • give pupils a list of possible healthy meals and let them make up their own menu.
  • get local shops to offer healthy food choices too.
  • grow our own fruit and veg at school and have local and seasonal food on the school menu.
  • make school canteens nice and colourful and sociable, with comfy seats and outside areas to eat when the sun is out.
  • offer a national award for the best school canteen in Scotland.

To find out what else pupils said about school food and healthy eating, read the full report here.

If you’re finding it hard to eat well and it’s making it difficult for you to get the most out of school, make sure you talk to someone you trust, like your parents or carer or your favourite teacher.

As our recent blog post by Beat’s young ambassador showed, some young people might need more support if they have more serious problems with their eating. If this is you, then remember you can call the Beat Youthline on local rate number 0845 634 7650. (open Monday to Thursday 1.30pm – 4.30pm), or if you want them to call you back then text ‘callback’ to 07786 20 18 20.

There’s also some good advice on the childline website about eating problems.

Anti bullying week – Enquire’s animation on racist bullying⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog




As national anti-bullying week draws to a close, Enquire have added to our youtube channel our awesome animation film Ben and Sara’s story. This animation was made for Enquire by ethnic minority children supported by Shakti Women’s Aid. Asked what issues ethnic minority children might have at school, they chose to focus on the problem of racist bullying and the support that can help children facing it. Hats off to the children at Shakti, who created the story, used their own artwork, did the voice overs and filmed the animation themselves!

As Scotland’s antibullying service respectme remind us, every child has the right not to be bullied – and that includes you!

respectme have got some useful info on their website for you, including busting some myths about bullying and giving advice about what you can do if you are being bullied. Check out the respectme website here.

Want to talk to someone about how you are affected by bullying? Remember that childline are there for you. Call childline on 0800 1111 or talk to a childline counsellor online.


Ellie’s blue ribbon campaign reaches greater heights in time for dyslexia week⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Remember our blog about the blue ribbon campaign being led by Edinburgh teenager Ellie? Well, Ellie has now sent out more than 20,000 blue ribbons to raise awareness about dyslexia! She’s even got support from Prince Harry  and grand prix legend Jackie Stewart.

Congratulations Ellie. What better way to celebrate Dyslexia week going on this week :)


You can show your support for the campaign by adding the fabulously named blue ‘twibbon’ to your twitter or facebook page – get your twibbon here.

There’s also a Blue Ribbon Competition – Send in a photo or drawing of you or someone else wearing your blue ribbon in an unusual place. Email them to competition@dyslexiascotland.org.uk by 22 November and you could win a fab prize.

Finding it hard to read or write? You’re not alone. Remember that Enquire are here for you if you want advice about your rights to get extra support with your learning. You, your parents or carers can get in touch on 0845 123 2303 or by email.

For advice on dyslexia you can also call Dyslexia Scotland’s helpline on 0844 800 8484 between 10am and 1pm or 2pm and 4pm, Monday to Friday.



Challenge Poverty Week – Children and young people’s views⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

To mark Challenge Poverty Week this week, Enquire are shining a spotlight on some of the views that children and young people have shared with us over the last few years about how experiencing disadvantage impacts on them at school and the support that helps.

Speaking to children supported by Shelter Scotland a while ago, who sadly are no strangers to poverty, a big issue raised was that if you’ve had to move house a lot and have changed schools, then “it can be hard to get the school uniform”. One young person suggested to Enquire that they thought schools should sell second hand uniforms that would be cheaper to buy.

Doing homework could be difficult, the kids at Shelter thought, when there’s “no space in the house” and when you don’t have access to a computer. They felt that “getting a break from brothers and sisters” and “having my own room” would really help make it easier to do homework. Another young person said that going to the local library to use the computer there had helped her too.

Another problem that one of the young people we spoke to at Shelter talked about was having to spend lunch money on getting the bus to school because they lived too far to walk – one young person thought it would good if there was funding to help with travel costs. The young folk also said it was really helpful when the council helped pay for a taxi to school or put on a school bus.

These issues around money have been brought up by other young people too. Young carers we spoke to at the Young Carers Festival felt that the cost of school trips made it hard for young carers to go. ‘You had to pay £40 at my school to go to Alton Towers, which was too much’, one said.

One big message coming across from lots of young people we have spoken to is how important it is for schools and families to talk to each other about difficulties at home so that the school can try to help. As one girl said, “mum needs to be open with the school about what’s going on at home.”

Looking for more advice? Child Poverty Action Group have an advice line which is open Monday – Friday 10am – 12 noon. Call 0141 552 0552.





Young refugees talk to Enquire about settling in and learning English⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Can you imagine having to leave behind your home, friends and family and going on your own to a new country you know nothing about? That’s what refugees have to do to get away from war, famine and other terrible things going on in their home countries.

Enquire, recently went to Anniesland College in Glasgow to meet Beza, Yusuf and Melissa, three young people who are refugees from Eritrea, Somalia and the Republic of the Congo. Despite the hard times they have gone through, all three are still really keen to learn.

The classes at Anniesland are making a big difference in their lives – not just in helping them to learn English and adapt to life in a new country, but also giving them the chance to make new friends. “I’m happy to understand the people and to share conversations”, Yusuf says, “We feel like a family… We trust each other. And we work very hard, we help each other.”

It’s not easy for them though: “the thing is, our country we learn some kind of different things than is here and the questions is different, teacher is different, everything is different”, Yusuf said. Waiting to find out if they are allowed to stay in Scotland is really hard too: “It’s very difficult to concentrate for the learning because you just think about the answer Home Office gonna give you”, Melissa told us.

‘Respect’ in Arabic. Yusuf’s contribution to a class mural.

‘Respect’ in Arabic. Yusuf’s contribution to a class mural.

To listen to what else Beza, Yusuf and Melissa had to say, click on the podcast chapter headings:

Chapter 1 – Settling in – the challenges of trying to learn English and being somewhere so different (Did you know that in the Congo and in Somalia, school starts at 7.30am?!); why community helps you settle in; and the support they got from the A.S.I.S.T projectthe Scottish Guardianship Service, the Red Cross and their families to secure a place at college.

Chapter 2 – Learning experiences : we hear what an ESOL course is and why it’s more than just English lessons and find out how being uncertain about their future in Scotland makes it hard for these young refugees to focus in class. Melissa has good things to say about how easy it is to approach teachers here tho “you are free to talk to your teacher, you can share something with your teacher”, and Yusuf tells us about how the Somali way of building schools is different: in Somalia,‘we don’t wait to build a school the Government,we build ourselves ..we make a decision ourselves” -Inspiring!

Chapter 3 – Beza talks about how the Scottish Guardianship service has helped her. “when I arrived here, and she take me to my social worker and I think she helped me, everything! She gave me support, not only for education, for all my personal things, like appointments. When I have like bad mood, I called her and she will came and take me out … we can meet new friends, new people, so we don’t feel alone. Like, I stay without family but they make me happy and forget all of things like the back history”.

Chapter 4 – The young refugees share their advice and dreams for the future: two of their top tips are to study hard and to learn English.”Don’t give up, just keep going and have a choice” says one. ”Don’t forget where you come from”, says another.And their dreams? The strong theme is “to help in my own country and the people who need help also”.

If you’re affected by any of the issues in this podcast, call the Scottish Refugee Council for free on 0800 085 6087 (Mon – Fri 9.30-4.00).

The Scottish Guardianship Service supports unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children and young people, helping them access the support they need to rebuild their lives and make informed decisions about their future.

Enquire would like to thank Beza, Yusuf and Melissa for sharing their experiences and thoughts with us and Lyn at Anniesland College for her support.


Last but not least, here’s a transcript of the interviews if you’d rather read them instead of listening.


Jeni: Hello, shall we introduce ourselves first? So I’m Jeni

Melissa: I’m Melissa

Beza: : I’m Beza

Yusuf: : And I’m Yusuf

Jeni: Hello, hi. And welcome. So Yusuf, it would be sodewou, and Beza , in kwahn deh-na meh tash and Melissa, bienvenue. I’m in Glasgow today at Anniesland College, talking to Yusuf , Beza and Melissa who are studying English together. They share something unique: that they are all refugees and that they all arrived in Scotland on their own. I’m delighted to be here, so thank you for taking the time to talk to Enquire and for sharing with us your experience of learning here in Scotland. Now, when did you arrive in Scotland?

Melissa: In 2012, August

Beza: I came here in 2011

Yusuf: Came here in 2010

Jeni: Ok, and what country do you come from?

Melissa: I’m from Congo, republic

Beza: I come from Eritrea

Yusuf: I am from Somalia

Jeni: How did you get your college place?

Beza: I have got support from Assist and from Guardianship and the woman who work from Assist, she take me here and I registered. Yeah

Yusuf: Just my family support me to get a college, they fill me, they fill the form for me and we send it to college and I have been waiting for 8 month and then I finally get it, the course.

Melissa: The Red Cross helped me to get a place

Jeni: What’s difficult about studying here in Scotland?

Melissa: The difficult thing is because here we start in English and for me English is not my first language, it was very difficult before but now it is …

Jeni: Good, so as your English is improving, you’re finding it a bit easier?

Melissa: Yeah

Beza: The difficult was the pronunciation and the same as Melissa, it’s not, it’s not our first language and it was difficult when I came here the first time, but now I think I improving my language and it’s easy now, it’s good.

Yusuf: : To be honest, the first time I came this country, I couldn’t speak very well English, but today I’m improving the way I’m speaking and I have done last 3 years was fantastic and today, I’m happy to be, to understand the people and to share conversations, some kind of stuff like that.

Jeni: Lovely, thank you, and what’s really good? I remember you mentioned to me last week that you’ve got a very special class here at Anniesland

Beza: Yeeeah

Jeni: What’s special about it?

Melissa: Uh, our class is like family. Yeah, yeah. Very friendly and we enjoy.

Beza: Our class is special from other class, because we are not only learning English, we are doing other stuff and the students and the teachers, it’s like family. We don’t feel like we come here from other country. We feel like home, so it’s nice, it’s really nice.

Yusuf: We feel like a family, is brothers sisters. We trust each other, there is all honest people, you know what I mean and I’m very happy about that. And we work very hard, we help each other.

Jeni: So how are you finding your new routine at college? Because it can be very different can’t it?

Beza: It’s very different than back home. So it’s nice, it’s really nice, and we can get the education easily. The teachers can give us, like, easily a way that we can understand quickly, so it’s good.

Melissa: And for me, it’s different because in my country the class start at 7, half past 7, but here you can start at half past 9, this is a difference.

Jeni: Ok great, so it’s a lot earlier at home?

Melissa: Yeah

Jeni: And did that take a bit of time to get used to?

Melissa: Yeah

Jeni: Yeah, sort of changing your body clock a bit

Yusuf: In my country, the school, you have to be there half 7

Jeni: Wow

Yusuf: So this is earlier than in this country, so, and the thing is, our country we learn some kind of different things than is here and the questions is different, teacher is different, everything is different.

Jeni: Good and did it take a while to settle in to the new routine?

Yusuf: Yeah – absolutely yes


Jeni: You’re on a college course all together called ESOL, what does this mean?

Melissa: ESOL mean English for speaker other language.

Jeni: And what other languages do you speak – Yusuf: , what languages do you speak?

Yusuf: I speak all my language called Somalia

Beza: My language is Amharic. The main language in Eritrea is Tigrinya, but I left my country like earlier, so, I can understand but I couldn’t speak very well and I can speak English as well.

Melissa: I speak French, and Swahili is the African language and Lingala, a little bit, and English as well.

Jeni: Wow

Melissa: Yeah

Yusuf: So how many languages do you speak?

Melissa: 4

Yusuf: Oh that’s, you’re better than me – I only speak 2.

Jeni: All these beautiful languages! So how long have you all been learning English for?

Yusuf: : To be honest, I have been learn English 2 years

Melissa: 7 months, yeah. 6 months here at Anniesland college and 1 month to Chrysalis class – a Red Cross organisation for refugees – yeah, and I learn English there.

Beza: I have been 2 years, the same as Yusuf:

Jeni: Great, so what else do you cover in your ESOL class? Do you do anything else apart from English?

Melissa: We learn English, we learn maths, citizenship, ASDAN

Jeni: What’s ASDAN?

Beza: ASDAN is to go to outside and visit different kind of like museum, and about the plant, the leaves. We have learned about different kind of leaves on trees and we went volunteering, yes.

Jeni: Ok lovely, so it’s sort of developing you in a broad way, in a big way? Beyond your English?

Beza: Yes

Jeni: And what support do you get for your learning?

Yusuf: When I finish the class, I go to another class, the teacher called Gary, he helping me and my brother and another guy. We only three guys and it’s a small class. He helping us about the thing is homework, the thing you struggling, the thing you understand, know what I mean? And also he learn us the thing, like, we should learn, the thing we need to learn ‘cause he understand what we need and he knows what we need, know what I mean, ‘cause he a teacher.

Beza: I have extra maths in afternoon and I have extra education when, like, when I’m not understand and my teacher help me individual and it’s good.

Melissa: For me, I think, we have homework, is help, and we have quiet study every Monday is helpful, yeah.

Jeni: Is there any kind of support that would be helpful for your learning – is there anything else you would like to support your learning?

Melissa: Extra time for exam

Jeni: Ok

Melissa: Can be helpful

Jeni: So some young people tell us that they find it difficult to concentrate at school and college and this can be because they are worried about something or maybe because they’ve had a bad night’s sleep. Do you ever find it a bit difficult to concentrate when you’re learning?

Melissa: Yes sometimes, can I say, it difficult to be concentrate when you have some problem. Like people who don’t have a paperwork for live here in the UK.

Jeni: Permit for living here?

Melissa: Yeah, a permit, it’s very difficult to concentrate for the learning because you just think about the answer Home Office gonna give you and sometime if you have a problem with your family, or an argument with your mum or dad, you have stress, it’s very difficult to concentrate.

Beza: Yes it happens sometimes, not sometimes, usually, but, I try to move out from these feelings. I’m going to for a walk or watching TV, something like that. I forget like that, but sometimes it happens.

Jeni: That your worries affect your learning?

Beza: Yeah

Yusuf: Honestly for me, I don’t think I have something to stop my sleeping. Maybe if I have exam to worry about, my exam, why you don’t know what you did well, are you going to pass the exam or you failed, maybe that kind of thing.

Jeni: I’m happy to hear that. Could you tell me a wee bit about how the education system is different back home?

Melissa: In Congo, education is very hard, because here I think the difference when teacher talk or teach us in class, some people talk but in Congo when teachers teach, you can’t talk or you can’t argument with your teacher. If you do that, maybe they will beat you or they tell you to leave the college. Maybe they told you to bring your bag to come to talk to the chief or, yeah.
Another different is about homework – if you don’t do homework or something like they give you an exercise or they give you something to do, if you say, ‘I don’t need to do that’ – you can’t say that in my country but here you are free to say ‘I need to do something’. This is a difference between here and my country and there is good communication here between teacher and student: here you are free, you can talk to your teacher, you can share something with your teacher, and that is the difference.

Jeni: And Yusuf, how is it different in Somalia?

Yusuf: The difference is Somalia and the country I am in right now and we honestly, our first, the first thing is we don’t wait to build a school the Government, we build ourselves. And we make a decision ourselves and we decide what we need and we don’t wait anyone, we just do anything ourselves. The thing is, in our country, when you are at school, you have to be, the school we go 5 days except Friday and Thursday, that’s 2 days we’re off but here we’re off Saturday and Sunday and that’s different. At our school, you have to be there every day and you have to be on time, if you didn’t come on time, they might send you out the school.


Jeni: The Scottish Guardianship service is delivered in partnership between Aberlour Childcare Trust and the Scottish Refugee Council, and it helps to support young unaccompanied people through the asylum system. Each young person involved is matched with a guardian who acts as an independent advocate for them, assisting with everything from dealing with lawyers to building up social networks. Beza you have a guardian don’t you?

Beza: Yes I have.

Jeni: Yeah, could you tell me a wee about how the Guardianship project has helped you with your learning?

Beza: A lot!

Jeni: That’s lovely

Beza: I have met my guardian, before I met others, when I arrived here, and she take me to my social worker and I think she helped me, everything! Like, to show place when I start college, I didn’t know the way how to come, and she will take me here. She took me here and to apply other course and we applied last year and I was on waiting list and she phoned them, and asked the information every day. And she take me the appointments, she gave me support, not only for education, for all my personal things, like appointments.

When I have like bad mood, I called her and she will came and take me out, like, for walking or to have tea, something like that, and we going to the cinema, something like that. And they prepare party and when the college is closed or when, like, at Christmas, on the Christmas and Easter and something like that, they prepare a party. They called us and at that time, we can meet new friends, new people, so we don’t feel alone.

Like, I stay without family but they make me happy and forget all of things like the back history, so I don’t know, I can’t say.

Jeni: Thank you for sharing that.

Beza: Yeah, I’m so happy, they make me happy always.


Jeni: What advice would you each give to other young people who arrive on their own to Scotland?

Yusuf: Honestly I will give to them, my advice is first of all, don’t give up, please yourself, keep going, hard work. So my advice is, don’t give up just keep going and have a choice, that’s the good thing is if you have a choice, you will do anything, everything you want so that’s my advice.

Beza: First, they need to improve their English. If they improve their English they will do anything what they want to do. It’s a free country and we can get any support and free education so it’s a big opportunity for us, so they need to use this opportunity.

Melissa: The only advice I can say is: don’t forget where you come from and don’t take a bad attitude or copy bad things. Don’t forget your education, when you is young, your education who give your dad, your family and another advice I can say: here Scotland is a good country you can come and don’t be just focussed for the benefit because here they give a benefit. You need to study, to work and enjoy your life.

Jeni: What are you hoping for from your education, what are your next steps?

Beza: I’m going to do another ESOL next year and I want to improve my English very much and I want to study a nursing.

Yusuf: My hope in future is I would like to be a builder or a football player so I have 2 choices. So you need to think about your future because it’s not good thing, it’s not like an easy thing to think about, your future, so this is your future so you need to focus what you’re doing on, you need concentration.

Melissa: I need more English and, like, next year, I need to do ESOL F intermediate and after that I want to be a dentist, yeah. And, maybe I’m gonna apply after next year about this course.

Jeni: Lovely are there any other dreams for the future that you’d like to share?

Melissa: My dream is I need to be a successful singer because I am a singer and I need to get a good job to help poor people and help my country because in my country we have lots of problems – finance problems – and I need to help my country about that, and about the war and have a family. I need to be a mum one day with my husband and my children yeah, this is my dream.

Beza: My dream is to go to Uni and finish and to get a good job and that’s it.

Yusuf: My dream is, like say Beza , to go to Uni, to finish the what I’m looking for and to get a good job to helping me anything I need to how can I get anything I need, know what I mean? For example, to helping me about my family. It’s my turn so I have to help them, a lot of them you know, the way they helped me. I would like to help in my own country and the people who need help also, if I can. That’s my dream.

Jeni: Excellent, well thank you so much for spending time with me today and sharing your experiences and your advice and all your ideas and I wish you every success with your dreams for the future.

Melissa: Thank you

Yusuf: : Me too


New film by young people at Kindred – how advocacy helps you get your views across⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Check out this film made by some talented young people from Kindred‘s Saturday Nights group. The film is about how advocates can help young people. Not sure what an advocate does? Well, you are not alone! In the survey that the group at Kindred did, 91% of the young people they asked didn’t know what advocacy was. But fear not! All is explained in the film: “an advocate helps you to prepare for important meetings and helps you to speak up. They help you to feel more confident and they make sure you are listened to”.

Why might having an advocate at a meeting be a good idea? Well, as the young people in the film say, we all know how it feels “to be in a meeting and feel too shy to take part and speak up. We agreed that this was very difficult and it made us feel frustrated and upset that our voices were not always heard.”

So…. having an advocate can be a real help. Are there any ways that advocacy in Scotland could be better? These young film-makers had some ace recommendations for the government. They thought there should be fairer opportunities for young people all over Scotland to access advocacy and that more should be done to make sure people have a better understanding of what advocacy is and how it helps.

Launched at the Scottish Parliament, this film was made for a Young Scot project about services for disabled young people around transition time.

Enquire rolls out the red carpet⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

At our annual conference earlier this month we showed a new film about getting ready to leave school.  Pupils from Woodlands School in Edinburgh worked with Enquire and Media Education to make a film of their views about getting ready to leave school, post school options and learning programme made by Playback ICE called Moving on: Transition in Action.

For the official launch of the film and as a thank you to the pupils involved we held a special screening for the stars of the show.  The young people reported that taking part in the film made them feel ‘happy’, ‘proud’, a ‘bit nervous’ and ‘involved’.  They also said it felt good to talk over their feelings about leaving school. If you watch the film you’ll see how well everyone did – we think they were all amazing!

Click below to watch the film.

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Remember, if you’re worried about leaving school and want some help with this – tell someone!  You can talk to a teacher, your family, friends, social worker or anyone else you know who can help.  You can also look at Enquire’s guide called Getting ready to leave school for help and advice.

Your views are important to us!⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Maybe you’ve already seen our guides such as ‘Getting ready to leave school’ and ‘Going to a new school’? We are writing two new guides just now. They will be called ‘Extra help at school when you are looked after’ and ‘What happens when you can’t go to school?’

We always like to ask young people what they think when we are developing new guides. Your views are important to us as you know what works best for you.



Jeni from Enquire met with some young people from the Edinburgh Young Carers’ Project and the Maben Residential Unit to ask what they thought of the new guides.

They looked at the words, the colours, the cartoon characters and the design of the guides and came up with lots of great ideas.

Jeni says: “The young people I spoke to had lots of fantastic ideas about how we could make the guides better. I’m very grateful that I had the chance to listen to them and hear their views. They thought of things we hadn’t, like how important it is to get enough sleep and how this can make learning difficult. They thought the guides should be bright and cheerful with lots of images of young people they can relate to. I hope the guides will be more useful now. They belong to young people!”

Thanks a lot to all the young people who gave us their ideas!

We will let you know when the new guides are ready. In the meantime if you would like to look at our other guides for young people click here.


Ellie’s blue ribbons⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Ellie with the First Minister

Ellie is 12 years old and lives in Edinburgh.  Like many of you, she has dyslexia. She also has two sisters with dyslexia and one with dyspraxia.  You maybe feel a bit like Ellie who says “I am fed up of having to explain what dyslexia is to everyone I meet!” Ellie decided to do something about it!

She thought it would be a good idea to have blue ribbons that lots of people would wear, a bit like wearing a poppy for Remembrance Day.  She hoped this would help everyone be more aware of dyslexia and how it affects the lives of many young people.

Ellie needed to get some money to buy the ribbons and hand them out.  She heard about ‘Disney Friends For Change Grants’. Young people from all over the country can apply for money if they have an idea that shows they are trying to work to help others.  In her application Ellie said “I want people to know how difficult life can be for those with dyslexia and that people with dyslexia are not stupid.”

Ellie was given £750 to help with her plan that as many people as possible would wear a ribbon. She put the ribbons in libraries where anyone could pick one up for free. Lots of schools took them to hand out to their pupils. Ellie hopes the ribbon will soon be known as the DAW ribbon because she timed all this to happen during Dyslexia Awareness Week in November 2012.

Ellie knew it would be good if she could get some important people to wear a ribbon. She was able to go to the Scottish Parliament and give one to the First Minister and one to the Minister responsible for Learning, Science and Scotland’s languages. He was very impressed with what Ellie had done and said he would wear his ribbon with pride.

Ellie knew Sir Jackie Stewart had dyslexia so she wrote to him too. He wrote back to say he was happy to wear the ribbon so other people with learning difficulties might get the respect they deserve.

Ellie hopes to keep working on her project so that by the next Dyslexia Awareness Week in October 2013, even more people will be wearing the ribbons. We wish Ellie lots of luck for this- very well done, what a great idea! We will all be keeping an eye open for blue ribbons and will now be able to tell people what they represent.

Watch this video where Ellie explains how she came up with her idea and what she hopes her work will lead to.

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If you have dyslexia you will know what Ellie is talking about. You might find some of your schoolwork difficult.  It is important that you remember there are people who can help. These Enquire guides might help you too:

“I’m proud of my disability”⤴

from @ Enquire - young people's blog

Enquire recently chatted with Samantha, who became a wheelchair-user two years ago following an accident. She told us about the physical challenges she faced, what it was like going back to school and how she dealt with the reactions she received. Samantha’s story is an inspiring one.

Having overcome initial difficulties and adjusted to her disability, Samantha has discovered a talent for wheelchair-racing and inspirational speaking. Her ambitions include becoming an athlete, going to university and raising awareness about disability.

“Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you can’t do it ‘cos you can, you really can. You can do greater things than able-bodied people sometimes.”

You can listen to the podcast with Samantha here or you can read the transcript of what was said here:

Linda: I’m in the Scottish Borders today talking to a young person who’s just gone into her 6th year at school. She is also a wheelchair-user.  Sam, you’ve not always been a wheelchair-user.

Samantha: No

Linda: Tell me a bit about that.

Samantha: An accident occurred 2 years ago, which has left me paralysed from the waist down.

Linda: Were you in hospital for a long time?

Samantha: I was in hospital for exactly 6 months.

Linda: 6 months. That’s a long time. At what point during that 6 months did you find out you weren’t going to walk again.

Samantha: I found out that night of my accident on 2nd December.

Linda: So almost instantly.

Samantha: Yup.

Linda: So how did you deal with that in the midst of all this?

Samantha: I kind of dealt with it different to a lot of people. I never cried about my accident. I just kept saying, ‘It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s fine’ covering it with my smile which I find easier to do than letting it all out. I find it easier just to hide it, which I know isn’t the best thing to do but I find it easier.

Linda: What kind of support did you get when you were in hospital and recovery?

Samantha: Well I was in physio from 9 o’clock in the morning till 4 o’clock. Constant physio. My Physio was really, really good with me. She took me to a lot of sport and things, to loads of different things, to broaden my thing about disability. And she told me about writing a book and writing about how you feel which has helped a lot. I have a book at home that I write in whenever I feel a little bit down, whenever I feel I’m not quite happy. I just write and that helps me.

Linda: Excellent. What would you say was the most important thing to you during that period of time?

Samantha: Everyone else in the hospital because they’re all in the same boat and there’s even people..and they’re across the bed from you..and they’re a lot worse off than you. And that makes me feel so thankful that you can move your hands at least and you can move your neck. Some people can’t even talk which makes you feel very thankful.

Linda: What would you say was the most difficult or challenging part of that time?

Samantha: The physio was quite hard. I was told at the start, ‘The physio’s going to be really hard’ but I don’t think I could understand how hard it was going to be. It’s like standing every day and I had to do callipers, which is like you sweat as soon as you stand up. It’s really sore on your hands. Learning to push a wheelchair. It looks really simple to some people but it’s actually quite hard when you first get into it. I bumped into a lot of doors and stuff!

Linda: So building up a lot of strength.

Samantha: Yeah, I did a lot of gym work in the mornings. Just to be able to lift myself. I wanted to be independent so I had to do a lot of work to be able to transfer in the cars and things like that.

Linda: You must have missed quite a bit of school during that time so how did you manage to keep up?

Samantha: I missed a lot of work. In the hospital they sent me a tutor but because I was in rehabilitation all day and you’ve got people screaming all night you don’t get a lot of sleep so it was hard to keep with that. There was a man in the hospital at the same time as me and he was a PE teacher so he taught me my PE Standard Grade. I managed to sit 3 of my exams- PE, Maths and Drama and I got two 2s and a 3. When I came back to school I got tutors and I just took a lot of work home to fill in because I was going to miss a lot still with going to hospital to get check-ups.

Linda: There must have been changes that had to be made in school. Were there changes or did you find coming back to school was a fairly easy transition for you?

Samantha: I was lucky because we’d just moved into a new school so the lifts and everything were all there. It was really good. I had to go on a course for the e-vac chair, which is a chair that takes you downstairs if there’s a fire alarm.

Linda: So no real changes in the classrooms.

Samantha: Just tables as well because some are narrower so you can’t fit right in. Or they’re too high so you have windy-down chairs.

Linda: So all these things were put in place for you. Would you say it was easy or hard to fit back into school? Even thinking about friendships.

Samantha: It was hard on that kind of thing because I was scared to come back ‘cos I’d kind of got it into my head that people wouldn’t want to be the same around me. When I did come back at first everyone stared a bit, even though they all knew what had happened to me. They still stared. They were a bit cautious about speaking to me.

Linda: So do you think that was hesitation on their part because they were unsure?

Samantha: Yeah. I think they were unsure how I was coping with it. My close friends they were fine ‘cos they came up to visit me in hospital but other people weren’t sure how I was taking to it. They were just a wee bit hesitant towards me but after a few weeks they were completely fine.

Linda: What would you say were the main issues that face a young person who is a wheelchair user in a school?

Samantha: Obviously the fear of coming back and seeing people who haven’t seen you or seeing people you knew might take the mick out of people. You know they might be talking about you. I had it once. Someone said something about me and everyone ganged up on him and everyone was like, ‘That was horrible’. Nobody stuck by him and said,’Haha, that’s fuuny’. Everyone was, ‘That’s disgusting’. I was really lucky. My whole school is completely behind me. But I can understand how hard it is. When I first broke my back, I was like, ‘I don’t want to go back to school’. I didn’t want people to see me like this. I didn’t think people would accept me. I wanted to go to a school that had everyone in wheelchairs so I was the same as everyone else but my friends just said to me, ‘No, you’re coming back!’ I got no choice!

Linda: You’ve always, I’ve heard, been interested in sport. Maybe that’s changed so what kind of sport did you used to do?

Samantha: Gymnastics, ballet, hockey. I ran a lot. I really enjoyed sport. In the hospital, I didn’t really know what I was going to do. I didn’t know if there was any sport. I never watched the Paralympics. There is no-one in my school that’s disabled so I didn’t know of anyone who’d done disability sport but my Physio took me to a club in Glasgow- Red Star- that does wheelchair racing. I remember watching and I was,’ That’s amazing! I want to do that! I want to do that!’ So after I got out of hospital I went up to visit them again. I tried to get into the team.

Linda: So you had a trial?

Samantha: I said to the coach, who’s now my coach that I’d like to get into wheelchair racing. I really want to do something and I knew that sport made me smile before my accident and I knew it would make me really happy. So he got me into a racing wheelchair. This is my second time and my first with a proper coach and he just said to me, ‘ You’re in. You’re in the squad’. He just said I had a natural ability for it. I believe now I was born to do my wheelchair racing.

Linda: Ok, you’ve told us about your ambitions in your sport. What are your plans and hopes for the future?

Samantha: I hope to obviously compete. I want to be an athlete full-time but I’d like to also do…I enjoy the counselling side…Psychology. Hopefully, I’ll get to go to university and do Psychology and go into counselling. Possibly if I’m able to do my racing constantly I’d like to do inspirational talking. I go round schools the now..primary schools..and I talk to the kids and things. I’m a believer that kids should be taught about disability younger because kids are gonna stare but they’re staring because they don’t understand that we’re just the same. All they see is they’re different and they don’t like that because they’ve not been taught that they’re just the same, It’s just their legs don’t work which makes them no different. Nothing wrong with their brains. Their legs, their arms, maybe their whole body doesn’t work. It doesn’t make them any different. So I’ve been going around schools just teaching them about my sport. They really like seeing my chair. I call my racing chair Molly ‘cos I speak to it at the start of races and I say ‘C’mon Molly!’ I like naming her. And they really enjoy seeing it and they get really interested and they ask lots of questions. They love learning about disability. They just love it.

Linda: So you’re breaking down barriers.

Samantha: I’d love to go round primary schools and do that.

Linda: Do you see any barriers to achieving all these goals that you have?

Samantha: Emm…not really. My dad’s always told me that if ever I want to do anything then I can do it. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. I don’t think there’s anything…nothing.. that able bodied people do that I can’t do. I maybe just do it differently.

Linda: Do you think the experiences of the last couple of years have changed you as a person in any way?

Samantha: Yeah, I think they’ve made me stronger. I don’t think I’d be the person today if it wasn’t because of my disability. I’m very proud of my disability. I’m very privileged that I’ve had the chance to be disabled and get a chance to go to the Paralympics. I don’t think I would ever have got a chance to go to the Olympics. Yeah, I’m proud of my disability.

Linda: So, final question. If you were to give any advice to another young person who maybe found themselves in similar circumstances to you, what would the advice be?

Samantha: Don’t ever give up on your dreams. Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you can’t do it ‘cos you can, you really can. You can do greater things than able-bodied people sometimes.