Able to rise to the challenge
That their biggest handicap is not disability but other people's attitude to it, is an all too frequent lament of people with disability. It is a point that will be made forcibly during International Day of People with Disabilities on December 3, and it is also one emphasised by these videos, one from Scope (for people with cerebral palsy) and the other from the National Asthma Campaign. Both emphasise that what people with special needs want is not necessarily sympathy, but help and support in leading fulfilling lives.
Fighting Asthma Together has been partly prompted by research from the National Asthma Campaign which shows that, of the estimated 1.3 million children with asthma in the UK, one in three have had a bad attack at school, but only half carry their inhalers with them.
The NAC believes that children should have access to inhalers at all times and particularly during PE lessons (over half of children with asthma say that exercise triggers it). Exercise, it emphasises, should not be curtailed, rather children with the condition should be allowed to use their inhalers before PE.
Filmed in a school, the video, which is not aimed at pupils but at their teachers (primary and secondary), gives information on what causes asthma, what schools should do generally and how teachers should react when pupils have an attack. It also shows junior asthma clubs in action, where children can share experiences, check inhaler techniques and discuss problems.
While support and help is a key to improving the lives of people with cerebral palsy, acceptance is also fundamental. The Challengers and the Land of Droog is a resource pack for key stages 1 and 2 which aims to encourage both. Apart from the video, it includes a teacher's guide and photocopiable topic cards with suggestions for games.
The video is an animated cartoon which is introduced by Margie Woodward, a television and radio presenter, and children, all with cerebral palsy.
The central character is Charlie, who has the power and imagination to take his friends on travels through space. He also has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair. He and his friends land on Droog where the emperor doesn't like the motley band of earthlings, and insists that everyone be "homogenised".
It is a pity that we see Charlie dashing around in his wheelchair being heroic, but exactly what he does is a mystery which will puzzle children. Otherwise the cartoon would be a good trigger for a discussion on valuing diversity in people. The topic cards provide imaginative exercises to help children understand the physical frustrations experienced by people with CP. They can, for example, emulate poor muscle control in the face by clenching their teeth and speaking with their tongue against the bottom of their mouth.
Scope is offering TES readers a chance to win a copy of The Challengers and the Land of Droog. Send your name and school address on a postcard to DroogTES competition to Education Distribution Service, Unit 2, Drywall Estate, Castle Road, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 3RL. The first 10 postcards drawn out of the hat on December 10 1996 will win a free pack.