Schools need safe spaces: what we did in our school

Two Y11 students, Chaitanya Sapra and Zahra Qazi from Aylesbury High School, share why they took the initiative to improve the daily lives of some of their fellow students. Here they describe the process they went through and its impact in their secondary school.

The idea began when we noticed that our school needed a safe space for people to learn more about hidden and visible disabilities. People needed a space to discuss and share experiences, learn about disabilities and destroy stereotypes. Before our club began, so many people didn’t even know what ‘ableist’ meant, it was thrown around and we wanted to change that. Things needed to change. We became the change we needed to see. 

Our club takes place during lunchtimes, and we are so grateful to see so many people attend. So many people want to come and learn about disabilities, and we were so glad to see that we never stood alone in wanting change. We’ve covered Autism, Dyslexia, OCD, ADHD and Tourette’s so far, in an interactive and educational way. This ranges from myth busting games, eradicating thoughts such as ‘everyone’s a little bit OCD’ to safe, open discussions where we tackle questions that need to be talked about, such as Autism in the media and the importance of self diagnosis. We’re delighted to say that we’ve received amazing feedback about the beauty of the community that we’ve created, because feeling understood and heard holds unimaginable value.

We never underestimate the importance of quotes and our own experiences. People feel safe sharing their experiences with us, both anonymously and by standing up and speaking to the group. Our presentations are filled with quotes that people find relatable and reassuring. Speaking or listening to those with the disability that you may share or relate to can make you feel so understood and heard, and some can feel so supported by learning from others experiences. 

British Sign Language
The second half of our session is focused on learning British Sign Language! Learning BSL is something that so many people enjoy, and we’ve had some amazing achievements so far, with many conversing through signs that they had already learnt prior to our club! We wanted to highlight the importance of Sign Language, with it now being recognised as an official language, by going through an official BSL course and learning together in our club. Recently, our school had a Diversity Week, where we celebrated the diversity of the students at our school. To celebrate, the BSL club prepared a showcase, where we performed a section of ‘This is me’ from The Greatest Showman in BSL! The lyrics were inspiring and easy to learn, and with great response at our lunchtime practices, we showcased our fantastic community at our club. The video is one of our greatest achievements, and encapsulates so many memories. 

Big Ambitions!
We are so proud of ourselves for starting this club from scratch, and with the overwhelming support from everyone—year 7s to year 11s and 6th formers, even teachers join in too! We have many plans for upcoming sessions, and we’re especially excited to begin preparing a BSL showcase to compete in the talent competition our school hosts annually—A Factor. Together with our school, BSL and Awareness club have achieved so much. It truly shows that when you step out to make a difference with a whole heart, change will follow. 

Chaitanya Sapra and Zahra Qazi, Year 11, Aylesbury High School
SEN Magazine
Author: SEN Magazine

+ posts


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here