Wednesday, 1st November 2017
OPEN minded students took to the airwaves to help break down barriers of prejudice and discrimination
BROAD minded students have taken to the airwaves to help break down the barriers of prejudice and discrimination.
Over 180 students at Haughton Academy, Darlington, which is part of The Education Village Academy Trust, took part in a live broadcast on the BBC Tees Mike Parr Breakfast Show to help reduce ignorance and bigotry surrounding religion, gender and physical appearance.
Students were invited to listen and put questions to a panel of invited guests including Leo Gormley, of Sedgefield, who was disfigured in a fire, Year 8 identical twins Amelia and Imogen Hall, who were born with dwarfism, Ellie Lowther who transitioned to a female in 2012 and Amjid Kazir, a 38-year-old Muslim born and bred in Middlesbrough.
Mr Gormely, 64, who has had over 120 operations since his accident, said: “I was 14 and was working in a watchmakers in my native
“I was cleaning a clock with a can of petrol and it just exploded into flames in front of me. I was very lucky to get out alive but suffered terrible third degree burns to my hands, face and legs.
“It took me years to accept that his was how I looked and I dreaded going out in public because of the stares, double-takes and comments, especially from young people. Young people can be a tough audience. It took a long time and a lot of work to come through that.
“I think it is really important to tell my story, to make people more informed and let them know that it is ok to look different.”
Twins Amelia and Imogen Hall, 12, from Teesside High School, explained how despite ‘annoying’ stares from strangers they haven’t let being different hold them back.
The young Paralympians have recently competed for Team GB in the 2017 World Dwarf Games in Canada returning with a haul of gold, silver and bronze medals.
“We can’t do anything without people staring at us but our message is that it’s alright not to be the same as everyone else,” said Imogen. “It’s life and we just get on with it.”
Fellow panellist Amjid Kazir spoke to students about the links made between Muslims and terrorist incidents and the abuse that follows, while final guest Ellie Lowther answered questions on the reaction she had received from family and strangers since her transition.
Assistant head teacher at Haughton Academy Fiona Campbell said: “Even in today’s society there is such a lot of prejudice and discrimination.
“We are very excited that our student were able to be part of a programme to help break down those barriers and pre-conceived ideas.
“All of the academies within The Education Village are extremely inclusive and our students have a lot respect for everyone regardless of gender, religion, disability, sexuality, or they way they look. I have been extremely proud of the way they have conducted themselves today.”
Student Amelia Calvert, 13, added: “I was quite excited to be on the radio. I don’t think anyone should be discriminated against because of the way they look, how they dress, or the colour of their skin; they may be different but they are still people with feelings.”