Monday, 10 September 2012

'Thanks for the warm up'... time for the cool down



As the Paralympic Closing Ceremony drew a line under London 2012 (with the exception of the Olympic and Paralympic Parade of course) the whole country anticipates the metaphorical hangover. In a previous post, I focused on my enjoyment of the Olympics and the sheer joy and emotion it had left me with - I wished that as a nation we would support Team GB through the Paralympics and show the world how it is really done.

I can truly say this summer, that I am proud to be British. As a country, we have come together to show our support and admiration for all of the participants from across the world - particularly those from our 'home team'.

Now, this is only my opinion, but I felt a greater sense of pride for our Paralympic Athletes. Yes, of course I supported Team GB in the Olympics and I was particularly inspired by all of the athletes that have worked so hard to make it to London 2012 - I was also proud to be able to say that I went to school with Team GB's very own Alex Gregory - but there was something extra special about the Paralympics. Arguably, for the first time ever Paralympians have not only been treated as equal, but also been put on a pedestal from which every spectator looks up to. Channel 4's introduction absolutely rings true - in their own right, they are superhuman.

Many were dealt their cards from birth, whilst others were dealt them through their life journeys. Yet, they have overcome, triumphed and defied stereotypes. Hopefully somewhere along the way, as a society, we will make way for a very much needed and heightened understanding of individual challenges that they face. This is an inspiration in itself. The willing, the motivation and the determination of these athletes has been incredible. Many, against all odds, have exceeded expectations of themselves, their coaches and the countries in which they represent.

I was fortunate to have tickets to the Paralympic Stadium (as it became known) on Day 3... suffice it to say, it was one of the most incredible days of my life. Ok, so I am only 25, going on 26, but it could well have been that 'once in a lifetime opportunity' that everyone keeps going on about. I was also lucky to have tickets to the ExCel on Day 6. On both days, I had become a walking flesh covered sack of emotion. I laughed, cried, screamed, cheered and shouted - trust me when I say, the atmosphere at the Stadium was crazy.

Chris Whitehead celebrating Gold in T42 Mens 200m Race



On Day 3 I attended the morning session: Richard Whitehead won Gold in what was one of the most electrifying events of the morning - the stadium overflowing with excitement and pride, cheering all athletes competing and letting out roars, wails, screams, whistles and massive 'woohoos' every time the home team surfaced. It was a time of togetherness, not just for the Brits but the other supporters who were cheering their own countries.  Houssein Omar Hassan appeared to have injured his Achilles tendon early on in the race but showed extreme willing to finish despite the seven-minutes-plus time difference separating the race winner from himself. The stadium stood tall, cheering him on as he reached every length of the track – the focus was not on him to win the race, but solely on his determination that was openly tugging at heartstrings of onlookers. The stadium united to see this athlete and spur on his determination to finish what he started.

Houssein Omar Hassan: T46 Mens 1500m Race

It is so hard to imagine the intensity that Olympic Athletes endure – then you see the Paralympic Athletes with such a diverse range of disabilities and classifications, it has brought a new meaning to sport. Barriers have been broken, stereotypes torn, attitudes changed, world records blown out of the water and infinite possibilities for not only Britain, but across the globe. My hope is, that as a nation, we will carry the spirit of the Paralympics and continue to not only accept our differences, but also celebrate them. 

I want to thank all of the Olympic and Paralympic Athletes for bringing so much joy to London this summer. A big well done to each of the volunteers. It has been an amazing couple of months. Such a shame that we can't do it every year.



Over and out. Weez

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dis - Lek - See - Uh


Dyslexia [noun] Pronunciation: /dɪsˈlɛksɪə/ [dis – lek – see – uh]

A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence. 

- Oxford English Dictionaries




Let me first introduce the nature of my post – if you haven’t guessed already, it is about Dyslexia. Call it a follow-up to my previous blog post ‘Are we a dyslexic nation or is it an excuse that we hide behind?’. In this post I want to consider what it really means to be dyslexic.

Firstly, I want to point out that I have been tested for Dyslexia – I have the really long report explaining the areas in which I struggle most and advice on how I can combat the niggles that in the past have been more than challenging. Consider the irony…

Educational Psychologist + potentially dyslexic individual = a really long and wordy report for the newly tested dyslexic person to read.

I found that rather amusing – it didn’t jump up and slap me in the face straight away, although this could be because I was busy concentrating on reading the whole report several times before processing any of the information in it.

So if you read my previous post, you will have understood that for me, being dyslexic has not held me back in the slightest. Yes, I feel that if I had have known earlier on in my education that I would have found my school days easier, but when I think about how hard I worked to achieve what I did, it makes me proud. I survived first school, middle school, high school and college through sheer hard work, knowing something wasn’t quite right but I was still determined to prove to myself that I could do it. I often wonder if some of my teachers thought I was a lazy pupil – regardless, it doesn’t matter now that I have come out the other side unscathed.

That is my account, but for some children (and indeed adults) this isn’t the case. For some, they feel that their difficulty to comprehend through reading and writing has held them back – arguably made them feel inadequate. This genuinely makes me sad because I feel that I managed to achieve a great deal against these odds, but for others it can be such a rocky road. In some cases it has lead to discrimination in and outside of the classroom.

The problem

Dyslexia is mapped on such a broad spectrum – but once it is understood where an individual’s difficulties lie, life can become much easier. For example, it takes me twice as long to read black text on white background as someone who can read perfectly well, but for every area that I find challenging, there is an area that I excel in. To combat my problem with reading I use what I believe is called Apple Green acetate over the paper, or if I am working on my computer I may change the background of the page to speed up my reading. Dyslexia cannot be characterised to one specific area and no two individuals are affected in the same way. Sometimes this is where confusion begins.

I truly believe that the support available to children with Dyslexia in schools is much better now than it ever has been. Teachers are now more aware of the ‘tell-tale’ signs and how to help children overcome their learning difficulties – but more needs to be done. In order to teach children with learning difficulties effectively, the teacher first and foremost needs to understand the conditions and capabilities before bombarding individuals with more overwhelming (and sometimes patronising) ‘ways to combat’ said problems.

The statistics

According to the Dyslexia Action website, 1 in 5 school leavers struggle to read and write, 1 in 10 people have Dyslexia and 1 in 5 children are excluded from the classroom due to reading difficulties. 

The solution

In my opinion, there is no one solution to help those with Dyslexia – there are many. The Government could start by making it essential for teachers in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) to be taught about learning difficulties and ways in which they could help children to push down their metaphorical learning barriers. Not only will this be a great help to the children who have already established learning difficulties, but it will also be easier for teachers to identify signs of those who have not been previously screened for Dyslexia or other associated learning difficulties.

With the appropriate teacher training, the quality of education that is offered to every student will arguably be more valuable to those who had previously struggled. With a better understanding of learning difficulties help can invariably be put in place to ensure that every child gets a chance to achieve.

Every child has the right to be taught in a balanced and fair environment where opportunity is available to everyone. Teachers work hard to provide quality education, they inspire the children that they teach on a daily basis – but how do they get through to the children who have come to believe that they aren’t capable of achieving?

I believe that with introducing compulsory teacher training in Special Educational Needs (SEN) during ITT it will help to raise standards of not only the lives and education of the children, but also improve the levels of literacy in schools. 

On another note, please vote on my poll (to the left of the blog post) about whether or not you think that dyslexic individuals should be allowed to teach. My aim is to create a blog post that provokes open comments about this topic. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Over and out. Weez.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Olympic fever – contagion soon to clear

Image courtesy of TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/GettyImages

I have to say that I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the Olympics – when they announced that it would come to London in 2012, I let out a huge sigh whilst millions of people cheered. My first thought was, albeit selfish, that it would disrupt my travel to work, going anywhere in London would be a nightmare and that I simply couldn’t wait for it to be over.

This year I could not be more proud to be British!

To the unbelievers, the ‘Brits’ pulled it off… you should now eat you metaphorical hats. For the past two spectacular weeks we have been entertained, proud and noisy… this is how we do.

The opening ceremony had me hooked from the beginning. The only reason that I had tuned in to the BBC on opening night was because I didn’t want to be the only person in the world not watching. Danny Boyle put on a phenomenal show that would introduce Great Britain and its athletes to an incredible Olympics. From the industrial revolution to Winston Churchill, through to ‘The Queen’ jumping out of a helicopter with James Bond. This year was our year.

We came out of London 2012 with 18 more medals than in the previous games – perhaps it was because our athletes were on home turf, perhaps it was something in the drinking water or maybe Boris eliminated the toxins in London skies? Whatever happened this year it was quite the performance - from the opening ceremony to the events leading up to the closing ceremony, this is one to go down in British history.

London 2012 - 65 Medals
29 Gold Medals
17 Silver Medals
19 Bronze Medals

Beijing 2008 - 47 Medals
19 Gold Medals
13 Silver Medals
15 Bronze Medals

Since it began I have been glued to the television, when at work the live stream commentary on the Internet. Considering that I don’t like sport, I was dosed up on the Velodrome and couldn’t get enough of diving at the Aquatics Centre.

It is a shame that tickets became so hard to come by – the website for London 2012 tickets was an absolute nightmare. I don’t know if I was the only person to find that every time I tried to reserve tickets the page would freeze, then when trying to search for tickets again there would be one event showing rather than the 11 that were showing two minutes before. For me this was the only downside to the Olympics – said by a true couch spectator. The only thing that could have possibly been better in my eyes is if I had had tickets and been part of the supporting crowds to Team GB.

The closing ceremony (directed by Kim Gavin) has given an entertaining shock of realism to London… our time has come, been and gone for us to show the world what our Olympic games were made of. In a show of colour, flashing lights and loud music, we have been represented as a strong and proud nation. The torch relay saw the coming together of a nation where millions of people turned up to support the torchbearers who represented every curve and crevice of Great Britain.

I now hope that the rest of Great Britain will join me in supporting Team GB’s athletes in the Paralympics and hope that we can continue our successes.

2012 has been such a memorable year for everyone – the Queens Diamond Jubilee and then London 2012… what a year! I hope that as the success carries over to the Paralympics that we will remain as optimistic and excited in support for Team GB. Congratulations to those who took part, to those who took home medals, to those who broke records and last but not least to the thousands of volunteers – it has been amazing. Roll on 2016.

I can honestly say that I am very proud to be British. 

Over and out. 

Weez

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

UK Cancer Research's Race for Life - Regent's Park 14th July 2012



At approximately 7:30am on Saturday 14th July 2012, I woke up, stretched, then opened the bedroom blinds, fed the cats and went for a shower before realising that it was once again a wet and rainy day. I was dreading the hours to come - I knew from the previous Race for Life that I had taken part in that I would be coming home wet and painted in mud if the rain was to keep pouring. 

I have to admit that my mood wasn't particularly great - but then I can't say that I am usually happy when I have been rudely awoken by the annoying sound of my alarm - but I knew the day was all for a good cause.

My friend and I reached Regent’s Park with our two amazingly dedicated supporters (who sacrificed staying at home in the dry, for standing in the rain on a muddied parkland area). In front of us a sea of pink (and the occasional person dressed in a cow costume) gathered in front of us, jumping up and down to the beat or annoying chart topping singles. I have to admit that I opted out of the warm-up, maybe that wasn’t the smartest choice I have ever made, but I was only walking it so what’s the fuss? Aye.

Although the heavens had opened and the rain was beating down, the atmosphere was incredible. We walked the 5K in the rain in 52 minutes, there was very little room to manoeuvre due to the floods of pink winding through the course - it was wet and warm but also enjoyable.

To those who have also taken part in the Race for Life - well done! The weather has created challenges for everyone, and at Regent’s Park it was no different. It impacted heavily on the joggers and runners creating mini mudslides around the course (which was the deciding factor for me to walk).

There is still time to donate to our sponsorship page: http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/running-in-circles. We are half way to our target and need to make one final push to get there.

I would like to thank everyone for supporting us on the run up to the Race for Life and for the sponsorships.

Thanks for reading.

Weez






Friday, 13 July 2012

UK Cancer Research's Race for Life

Courtesy of www.nationalcynical.com
Tomorrow I am meant to be running in Cancer Research's Race for Life, but unfortunately due to having an operation on my nose two weeks ago I shall not be running anywhere because of the pain. Instead, I intend to walk briskly and enjoy the view from Regents Park.




If anyone feels like sponsoring me and help my team reach our £500 target, please visit http://www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/running-in-circles. 


Here you will be able to sponsor me and my team mates as we join the fight against cancer.




Thank you and much love,




Weez



Friday, 6 July 2012

Letter to Dear Ol' July

Dear July,

I have had no correspondence from May and was wondering if she had, in fact, passed on my message? As soon as the future seemed to be getting brighter and the moods and spirits of those around me lifted, it was taken away and spiralled into an abyss of grey darkness.

June brought us very little in the way of sunshine, perhaps she didn’t have the winning bid on eBay – it appears that Spain may have won those stolen moments with the UV rays and warmth. It’s a shame really, I quite like the sun, it makes everybody cheerful and happy – well apart from one of those things made out of that frozen creamy stuff, they either melt or get eaten. I’m not really sure that I would want to be one of those little ice creams; life would seem a little more unpredictable than that of a human.

Yes my dear July, I am being rather sarcastic. I hope you understand the frustrations the inhabitants of Britain have. We have had very little summer so far, and weather forecasts are more depressing as the weeks go on. I am usually one with a sunny disposition, but I think that must have been previously sold on eBay to cover the costs of postage and packaging for the rain. I mean seriously, the cost of making clouds can’t be cheap.

In fact, it has been raining so much that I have considered taking my fish for a walk – unfortunately, I could not find a lead small enough to fit around it’s head.

Begging at this point July is not beneath me – please deliver us some sunshine, for I fear I may emigrate and join the Expats. Please bring the sun home. Thanks.


Yours faithfully,


Weez





Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Karma - a bit like Marmite

"Karma moves in two directions. If we act virtuously, the seed we plant will result in happiness. If we act non-virtuously, suffering results."

Sakyong Mipham


I often find myself among the masses of morning commuters in London, completely agitated by those who don't know where they are going, those who walk slower than I do, those who weave unnecessarily blocking the only clear pathway through the crowd of tens and counting. I also often find myself sniggering when something goes kaput on the Victoria Line and you hear a communal hum of sighs from 80% of the people in the carriage. 

Today was no different. 

Today I giggled quietly to myself in the corner when the driver gave the announcement that would undoubtedly annoy hundreds ... "I must apologise ladies and gentlemen but the train appears to have over-shot the platform and now I can't open the doors". There are two things that made me laugh about this statement - firstly, no the train did not over shoot the platform, the driver was going to fast and could not stop the train in time. Secondly, there were a lot of unhappy moans and groans the minute people were told that the doors would not open at King's Cross. It's strange that everyone understands the unspoken meaning behind the words of the driver - all it takes is for people to read between the lines. What he really meant was, "in order for customers to leave the train, we would have to go forward to Euston".

Well, that situation was fine for me. Yes, it may have meant that I quickly needed to develop sharp elbows to stop myself from being pushed around by far more than the average traffic of bodies that pass through Euston at 8.30am (especially those much taller than me), but I knew that when I got to Euston I would be on the home straight and regardless of the minor inconvenience on my way to work I would manage to get to my course on time (the ultimate goal of today). 

How wrong was I? 

After being stuck underground on a sweltering hot and stationary train for 10 minutes at King's Cross, the driver gave another announcement. "Hello again ladies and gentlemen, unfortunately this train has now become defective and we will attempt to get one door in each carriage open. You will have to change here and find an alternative route" - well I guess that was Karma. For laughing at the small misfortunes of others, I too had to find an alternative route. 

My alternative probably only added on an extra five minutes to my journey, not bad going really. Hop on the Northern Line at King's Cross to High Barnet and make an extra change at Euston to head towards Edgware - at least I avoided what had become a severe delay on the Victoria Line for the sake of one stop. 

Moral of the story - no matter how insignificant, don't laugh at the misfortune of others. 

FYI - I made it on time (with 15 minutes to spare) for my course. 


Over and out. Weez

Friday, 8 June 2012

Letter to Dear Ol' May

Dear May,


In all honesty, I feel that you've let me down. I usually look forward so much to getting to spend time in the sun with you - this year, not so much. I spent my time digging out my wardrobe simply wondering what to wear in your company, but truly nothing seemed good enough for you. I have never been one to be told what to wear and when to wear it, but you honestly dictated my every move. There were so many times that I didn't want to leave the house because I didn't know what you would do.


You have changed so much since our last encounter. Last year you were warm and had a sunny disposition. This year you seemed so cold and your personality was as much fun as a wet lettuce. Talking of lettuce, I should probably let you know that my homegrown lettuce and beans are thriving - so for this I guess I must thank you. I have to say that there were a couple of weeks where you seemed a little brighter and weren't so depressing to be around - I even sported mild sun stroke because I enjoyed your company and the fine weather.


You gave us (not so much) sun, massive hail stones, thunder and lightening along with many rain storms... not a month to be proud of. So far, June hasn't been much better - perhaps you could put in a word for all of us Brits. When we meet again, please make sure that it is on better terms. You always appear in my favourite season and usually make so many people happy. Out of all of the months, you are the bestest best month EVER!


Please take on board my comments, and I hope that you don't take it too personally - a little constructive criticism never hurt anybody. So long my friend. I will see you in 2013.


 Much love,


 Weez 


 P.S. **SINGS** I can’t stand the rain!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Double Dip – The Fizzy Side of the Recession



Definition: Double - Dip Recession - When gross domestic product (GDP) growth slides back to negative after a quarter or two of positive growth. A double-dip recession refers to a recession followed by a short-lived recovery, followed by another recession (Definition courtesy of Investopedia.com).



We have all had to tighten our belts in one way or another since the first dip in the global economy in the last quarter of 2008 – in little over a year it was announced that the UK had defied the gravity of a mass financial downward spiral and had exited the recession with weak 0.1% growth. So even though the growth was slow, we as a nation were heading in the right direction right? Wrong.

Britain was headed for partial recovery after the initial crisis hit during the tail end of 2008. The crisis hit businesses in an often-perishable fashion seeing the closures of company branches as well as the administration and widespread insolvencies across every sector. One of the industries that were hardest hit by the downturn was real estate, housing markets and business activities according to the Association of Business Recovery Professionals. People were losing their jobs, homes and the country simply lost control of economic activities. Statistics show that shortly after the financial crisis hit, the unemployment figure was at 5.3% (approximately 1.6 million) - by 2009 the figure had sharply risen to 7.7% (approximately 2.5 million people out of work) and in 2010 increased by a further 0.1% according to World Bank data. By the end of 2011, employment rates began to rise – for some this appeared to be a glimmer of hope, the reality is that although there has been a rise in employment statistics show that there has been a decline in full-time work opportunities and an increase in part-time workers.

It seems that nobody is safe these days as far as employment is concerned. People applying for jobs, the lucky ones who make the cut from the interviews and the employees who have not been under threat with a company ‘shake-up’ or restructure – as soon as we find ourselves with a job (of sorts) things can change. The amount of applicants applying for one job has risen substantially since the beginning of the recession – some jobs have more than 70 applicants fighting it out for one position. Arguably sectors in customer service or admin have the higher number of applicants. The number of temporary positions has also soared as well as part-time vacancies on offer.

Until February I was juggling my life around two part-time jobs in completely different industries – fair enough, they were both customer facing but one was in an educational institution and the other was a bookmakers. In my opinion, it is increasingly difficult to choose a career path in these tough times – many employers require experience in order for an applicant to be successful, however how can one gain experience if there are no genuine ‘entry-level’ jobs where the experience can be gained? Not everyone can afford to take unpaid work experience. I graduated in 2009 in Television Production and would love nothing more than to become an editor, unfortunately when I was studying I had to work to keep a roof over my head and couldn’t juggle unpaid work experience.

With the battle becoming fiercer between applicants, it is an incredibly hard slog for school leavers and graduates who have limited experience. Perhaps it is time to go back to the drawing board and before making that decision about going to university ‘for the uni experience’ really think about what it is that you want to do and plan to go through the tough route – it is not unheard of for students to be under the assumption that they will be able to walk straight into a job… hell, I was one of them. This is why I personally would advise anyone currently going through school or Sixth Form to consider what they want to do and how they will achieve it. Anything is possible, it is just harder in times of recession to get what you want – don’t make sacrifices, plan ‘in case of’ the tough route and the easy route will be a doddle.

I should take my own advice and plan for the tough times… easier said than done.

Over and out. Weez 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Vanity of Weight Loss

Millions of women have a complex about their weight, even the ‘size zeros’ amongst us are weight conscious – so regardless of the blame game directed towards the media (rightly or wrongly so) we are living in a self-conscious and self-obsessed society where we are all searching for the perfect body.

Whether a woman wants to ‘shed the pounds’ before her big day, or ‘kick the clump’ after giving birth - it appears that weight loss is at the forefront of self-loathing. It can lead people to yo-yo dieting (of which I am a serial offender) which not only makes weight loss ineffective, it arguably sets a trap for a repeated sense of failure. Yo-yo dieting (or the yo-yo cycle) was a term created by Kelly D. Brownell, Ph.D and refers to the constant cycle of dieting to lose weight, which eventually (in varying and undetermined periods of time) lead to relapse. With this in mind, how far are we prepared to go to shed the weight that we have become so desperate to control?

There are numerous diet plans ranging from subscription groups and classes to personalised nutrition plans from dieticians, and more recently companies that have jumped on the diet bandwagon including those that deliver pre-prepared dietary meals to your front door.  This all appears to be the tame version of the norm in comparison to a new ‘craze’ diet that has arguably swept American brides-to-be by storm. This new diet is said to help people lose 20lb in ten days – so how safe is the K-E Diet?

Put quite simply, the patient walks around with a K-E tube inserted through the nostril and into the stomach for ten days where their calorie intake will total 800kcal worth of protein and fat per day - it totally eradicates sugar intake which shocks the body into a state of Ketosis. According to the NHS website Ketosis is a serious condition where raised levels of Ketones are found in the blood. The cause is often due to the effects of a low carbohydrate diet (carbohydrates provide the majority source of our body’s energy) – carbs convert into glucose, which is what this diet aims to eliminate. It relies on the body’s lack of carbs (therefore lack of glucose) and the fat is broken down in a process called ‘fat metabolism’. The body will run off a reserve tank and in non-dietary circumstances is said to be linked to starvation, diabetes mellitus and alcoholism.

One leaflet offered to potential customers has printed guidelines on how the procedure works and what the results will be. Under the heading ‘Is it safe?’ the leaflet says ‘The K-E Diet was developed in Italy and has been used safely over 100,000 times with amazing weight loss results’ … well that totally puts my mind at rest, if it was developed in Italy and has been used over 100,000 then it must be a reliable quick fix – seriously, give me a break. Now I am no doctor, and I never will be, but brief research into the risks of Ketosis has taught me that due to the high levels of acid in the blood there is a higher risk of kidney and liver problems – plus it is unbelievably expensive!
NOW ON TO THE TANGENT
This whole process reminds me of the Suffragettes, although they were fighting for something much more worthwhile and less self-absorbed than a quick fix to weight loss. Didn’t this constitute as a punishment when the Suffragettes went on hunger strike? In fact, the women who were fighting and often gave their lives for our right to vote sacrificed their own lives in many ways; does this not seem to be a total U-turn?


WSPU Poster 1914
Force-feeding through the mouth was the more common form of gavage (force feeding), although failure to do so resulted in insertions through the nostrils. Feeding through force had become an attempt by the government to get ahead of a political war – the women battling for suffrage were often arrested for smashing windows of shops and defacing public property including acts of arson and public disorder. The hunger strike was an extremist strategy developed by Marion Wallace-Dunlop after being charged on 25th June 1909 "with willfully damaging the stone work of St. Stephen's Hall, House of Commons, by stamping it with an indelible rubber stamp, doing damage to the value of 10s". After fasting for 91 hours she was released due to government fears that she would be a martyr to the suffrage cause - which shortly lead to other Suffragette prisoners going on hunger strike. However, this soon led to the gavage initiative lead by wardens in prisons. Force-feeding was endured by hundreds of women up until the Temporary Discharge for Ill Health Act (nicknamed the Cat and Mouse Act) was set in place in 1913, which allowed the women to go on hunger strike, and as they became weaker they would be released posing as little threat to the government. However, once these women were strong and healthy enough, they would once more be arrested and the vicious cycle continued.

The Illustrated London News, April 27, 1912
[Rosa] May Billinghurst was born in 1875 in Lewisham, London and suffered with total paralysis throughout her life. She became an active Suffragette in 1907 and encountered arrests and force-feeding on several occasions throughout her life. She told in her account of how five wardresses and three doctors pinned her down preparing her for force-feeding which went on to create a wave of revulsion and lead this political outrage to new depths of contempt: “[They] forced a tube up my nostril; it was frightful agony, as my nostril is small. I coughed it up so that it didn’t go down my throat. They then were going to try the other nostril, which, I believe is a little deformed. They forced my mouth open with an iron instrument, and poured some food into my mouth. They pinched my nose and throat to make me swallow”.



BACK ON POINT

Although my comparison may seem a little extreme, it strikes me that what it once meant to be a woman in Britain now means something completely different. The Suffragettes fought a militant battle to gain a glimmer (at that point) of gender equality for women and the Suffragists spearheaded non-militant campaigns to give women a better quality of life – different tactics led to one combined effort at gaining the women’s right to vote. Whereas the modern day woman is arguably so wrapped up in self-image and media ideologies that she has sought comfort in a practice that resembles that used by the government as a matter of punishment and degradation to women prisoners.
Perhaps my understanding of this new ‘revolutionary’ diet is weak and my comparison to gavage is graceless, but I believe that the idea of having a tube inserted into the nostril and being fed a meager 800kcal per day to lose weight as a quick fix is incredibly vain and devalues what being a woman stands for.

At what point did we transcend beyond being proud of who we are and valuing our self-image? I sympathise with anyone who is in a constant state of unease about their appearance - as I mentioned before I am a serial yo-yo dieter and struggle to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, but I do not think that any promised ‘quick-fix’ is the answer. There are large health risks to many things that we do in life, but the health risks associated with the K-E diet are arguably an act of vanity.

Over and out. Weez






Information used in this blog can be accessed at: -

Aurora Metro. (n.d). Marion Wallace-Dunlop. Retrieved 05 08, 2012, from The Suffragettes: http://www.thesuffragettes.org/map/outer-london-boroughs/ealing/marion-wallacedunlop/

Archives Hub. (n.d). Autograph Letter Collection: Letters of Rosa May Billinghurst and Dr Alice Ker. Retrieved May 09, 2012, from Archives Hub: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb1069-29?page=1#id590539

Kelly D. Brownell, e. a. (1986). Understanding and preventing relapse. American Psychologist , 41(7), 762-785.

NHS. (n.d). NHS Choices. Retrieved May 09, 2013, from Ketosis: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ketosis/pages/introduction-old.aspx

Purvis, J. (1995). The prison experiences of the suffragettes in Edwardian Britain. Women's History Review , 4 (1), 103-133.








                                                                                                       

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Are we a dyslexic nation or is it an excuse that we hide behind?

People tend to criticise things that they don’t understand and they run scared of things that seem ‘abnormal’. It is difficult for both children and adults in today’s society to come to terms with being told that they have a learning disability – the fear of judgement from others, the fear of being rejected for a job all because of a ‘learning disability’ it all contributes to a self-confidence crash.

Arguably, children have it hard when finding out that they are in fact not illiterate, they are dyslexic - which is why they struggle with spelling, reading or writing. They need extra resources to help them move forward and in some cases, when dyslexia goes undetected it can cause illiteracy and severe learning difficulties. Not only do they have to cope with finding out that they have a common ‘disability’ but it is made obvious to their peers that they are struggling, which unfortunately leaves them prone to bullying.

I frequently went through my school years thinking that I was incapable of learning and often mentally punished myself for being unintelligent. I used to sit next to my best friend trying to copy her work – not because I could not do the work myself, but because she had such neat writing. It strikes me as being really silly now, I did not often confer with other peers for answers (except in maths – which the less said about at this stage the better) – I just really liked her handwriting. I was envious of how her intelligence seemed tie in neatly and flow through the tip of her Parker pen.

Needless to say, I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones. Nobody even knew that I am dyslexic. Not the other children, nor the teachers and neither did I. In fact, it was not until I was sat in my A-Level Media class and we were given five minutes to read a page – when asked if everyone had finished reading, I was the only person in the class that answered “no” in a chorus of “yes”. It was then, that the first person noticed that I was that little bit slower and found it more difficult to engage in reading than my peers and advised me that when I get to University I go to be tested for dyslexia.

At the age of 20 I have to say that neither the test, nor the results bothered me in the slightest. I have always known that I struggle with reading – black text, white background, forget it. It takes me approximately five minutes just to read through a paragraph because the white is so piercing and bright. I tend to find the nice shade of apple green acetate helps me read at a slightly less than average speed but faster than my normal white with black text speed. Spelling, well I am okay, not brilliant but then who is?

So enough about me and back to my main point. It is now being acknowledged more in classrooms, children appear to be getting more support now than ever, which is great news for whatever statistic the government wants to brandish at dyslexia. Hold on, I seem to be missing out one important thing – the cynics.

There are two parts to our society, those who tolerate and those who do not. Fine. A minority of people are blind sighted by the very thought and understanding around dyslexia and appear to think that it is not a case of children or adults having a legitimate learning disability, and that it is a case of laziness or lack of intelligence. This is simply not the case. Like I said in previous paragraphs, I am dyslexic. I completed GCSEs, A-Levels and received a First Class Honours at University – all because I worked extremely hard. I took no extra help, but it was the knowing about the condition as well as knowing measures that I can use to help myself that made me achieve more than I could ever imagine.

In 2010, BBC Three broadcast a documentary about Kara Tointon (Dawn, Eastenders) and her living with dyslexia. ‘Don’t Call Me Stupid’ was broadcast to raise awareness of dyslexia and how to live with it. It was like looking in the mirror. Like Tointon, I struggle to read books from cover to cover and wish I could experience the same depths of imagination as a non-dyslexic person experiences when they read books. By watching this documentary, I realised that what I have to work through, is what many other people with dyslexia feel too. It helps to know that there are always people out there who are willing to help and advise.

Through the lack of understanding many people dismiss dyslexia too easily. Dyslexia is a broad learning disability that does not affect everyone in the same way – those who live with it, will do so for the rest of their lives – some of who do not realise that they have it. Dyslexia Action say that approximately 10% of the UK population has some form of dyslexia. They also state that ‘it doesn’t affect intelligence but predominately causes difficulties with reading, writing and spelling… The social impact of dyslexia is extensive. If you cannot learn to read, you cannot read to learn and everything we do at school and throughout life requires us to have the skills to be able to access written information. Above and beyond the difficulties and barriers dyslexia presents it is the damage that low self-esteem can have, which is life-long’ (Dyslexia Action, 2010).

So are we a dyslexic nation? Well, like I said in the previous paragraph, 10% of us are. Do we hide behind it as an excuse? No, it is essentially a matter of tolerance and understanding towards those who have it. I will not use the phrase ‘suffer with it’ because it is not necessarily something that we have to suffer with – I certainly did not. Though there are many who do struggle through because the help they need is not as readily available as it should be. If awareness is raised, then we are certainly going in the right direction to help others who are feeling held back by something that should be seen as insignificant to their lives.

To find out more about Dyslexia Action, visit www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk.
Please take a minute to sign a petition for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) to provide mandatory teacher training in dyslexia - to sign, just follow the link: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20674

Over and out.

Weez

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