A CAMPAIGN has been launched to break down barriers between people with learning difficulties and their communities.
Enable Scotland’s ‘#BetheChange’ campaign, supported by funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, aims to tackle the bullying of people who have learning disabilities.
According to the charity, nine out of 10 people who have learning disabilities report that they have been bullied in their communities.
As part of the campaign, Enable Scotland will support ‘Change Champions’ to deliver workshops across Scotland throughout 2018, giving people who have learning disabilities a platform to share their personal stories and raise awareness of unacceptable behaviour and practices.
In addition, Enable Scotland, in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow, will roll out a series of lesson plans for S1 and S2 pupils to educate school children about the experiences of people who have learning disabilities.
Theresa Shearer, CEO of Enable Scotland, said: “#BetheChange aims to empower people who have learning disabilities to drive forward attitudinal change in their community.
“Through our Change Champions we want to engage with communities and individuals and give them the know-how and confidence to be the change themselves – to challenge unacceptable behaviour towards people who have learning disabilities when it occurs – but more than that, to be a friend.
“It’s time to break down barriers and ensure that people who have learning disabilities are respected and valued, and that any obstacles to an equal society for all are challenged and removed.”
Lucy McKee, 18, is one of Enable Scotland’s Change Champions.
She said: “People at school have told me in the past that I shouldn’t have been born, and of course that hurts.
“But, you can let it get to you and make you feel bad, or you can choose to stand up to it. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
“I’m proud to be a Change Champion. I want to help others – including the people who bully – to stop and to think about the person they’re bullying. That person isn’t just their disability; they’re not the label you choose to give them. They are a person, with feelings, hopes and dreams, just like everyone else.”
Lucy added: “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. But we should all take the time to get to know the person.”
The group of Change Champions are currently devising their workshops to be delivered in 2018 to other youth groups in their local communities, including Scouts, Guides, council run youth groups and sports clubs.
Enable Scotland is encouraging all members of the public to pledge their support and sign up to #BetheChange by visiting enable.org.uk/bethechange