One of my favourite parts of everything to do with So Bad Ass is that I get to do talks all over the world about IBD, ostomies, disability, parenting and body positivity and so when I was asked by our local Scouts group if I would come in and talk to their Cubs about disability, working for a charity and my experiences to help them get their disability awareness activity badge, I jumped at the chance.
Then it got to the night itself and despite the fact that I have spoken in front of rooms full of the most respected doctors in the world, in front of hundreds of people at events all over the place, the thought of a bunch of 10 year olds was terrifying!!
But I knew I wanted to go ahead and so I went in and spoke about my illness, about my ostomy bag, scars, disability and lots about poo… There were some “urghhhhhh” comments, there were times when they asked weird questions, but it was all good and so great to talk about something that is very much seen as taboo.
I spoke about my work for Scope and their End The Awkward campaign, about how lots of people find it difficult to speak to a disabled person because they feel awkward and worried that they will say the wrong thing.
We spoke about examples of disability, and they blew me away by saying that one of their grandparents had an invisible disability in the form of dementia and I was so pleased that they had such a great level of understanding. We chatted about how difficult communication can be for some people and how we can find ways to make it easier.
One child raised his hand and told me he had scars like me, that he’d had heart surgery when he was a baby but his dad told him he could tell fibs about the scar, that he won a fight with a ninja, that he survived a shark attack, that it was a Harry Potter scar… I love that! I often tell people I fought off cthulhu…
In short, they were fantastic and I think they all went away with a better understanding of disability and so it was all worthwhile. I even got my own badge! I was one of several people to come and talk to them over a few weeks, they had learnt some sign language, had a session with a man with a sight impairment and had talked about mental health too.
I did find out that 10 year olds are awful/brilliant. I said they could ask anything and I’d try my best to answer. One boy raises his hand, waving, desperate to ask his question. I thought ‘how brilliant! I’ve really reached him!’
He said “why is your hair half orange and half black?”
Great. Burned by a 10 year old cub scout…