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Did you catch ‘About a Boy’ on Australian Story last week? Nine year old Quaden was the target of vicious social media bullying after his mum posted a video of Quaden distraught from bullying at school. If you didn’t there is still time to watch it online.

Sadly, discrimination and bullying for people with disability is a reality for many Australians leading to poor mental health outcomes.

Social Futures “Different on the Outside but the Same on the Inside” is a disability awareness and inclusion program designed for schools. It was created by our talented Local Area Coordinator from Orange, Prue McCarthy, who knows too well what it is like to be treated differently due to disability.

“I wanted children to realise that people with a disability are just the same as everyone else”, says Prue, “and I hope they can carry this awareness with them through to their adult years and onto the next generation. The best place to make change into the future is with the children of today.”

The program introduces young people to different types of disability. It uses activities and games to teach children empathy and help them to gain an understanding of what it is like to live with a disability. One of the features making this program so successful is the opportunity for children to interact directly with a person with disability and to ask them open and honest questions.

“’What the hardest thing for you to do with having a disability?’ they often ask”, says Prue “or I’m commonly asked if I ever wished that I weren’t born with a disability.”

“I had one teacher tell me about a student who was hearing impaired but too embarrassed to wear his hearing-aides. But after I presented that student went up to his teacher and said “I think that I might start wearing my hearing-aides so I can learn more.” ”

“I know I have done my job well when I see students write on the evaluation forms, ‘people with disabilities can do anything they want to’ ” smiles Prue.

Here is what some Year Six Primary School students from Orange had to say after completing the Program:

“If I’m being honest, I was a bit afraid when Prue first came into our class but that left quite quickly as she sat and talked to us about her life with cerebral palsy. Her talk was inspiring and left me thinking about her for the rest of the day.” – Trixie

“Prue explained that sometimes society judges people who have disabilities. Just because someone might be different to you, you should not discriminate against them. We have to change our discriminative ways and learn to love.” – Joaquin

If you would like to know more about our Inclusion Programs for schools, including the ‘Different on the Outside but the Same on the Inside’ program, call Social Futures on our LAC Hotline today – 1800 522 679 (830am-430pm weekdays).

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