ME awareness

16th June 2006 at 01:00
Recently it was ME awareness week. With symptoms such as chronic fatigue, confusion, muscle aches and sensitivity to sound and light, this illness turns vibrant people into desperate, exhausted individuals. I wanted to make the staff and the children aware of this, so I planned a scheme of work for my Year Five class.

We started with literacy, narrative empathy and point of view. The children wrote narratives from the point of view of a young person suffering with ME. In PSHE they looked at accepting others. In circle time we discussed what it is like to feel alone, and the children all drew lonely monsters. The children then tried to complete a spelling test of words they all knew after running hard for 10 minutes, to see what it was like to work while completely exhausted. In history we took the topic "How Britain has changed since 1948" and looked at disability access for old and new buildings. During PE we explored limited movement, and energy levels.

The children enjoyed having a main focal point to work around. The literacy work that was produced was of a very high standard, and they relished sharing their new knowledge at home and at school. At an assembly, the children told the rest of the school about ME through role play, and listening games. They decided that their catchphrase for the week was going to be: "I am making you aware".

I abseiled from the Tyne Bridge on Sunday, as a climax to the week of ME awareness events, during which I shared the stories the children had written with some of the ME sufferers. The simple empathy and consideration that a class of 10-year-olds had found was inspiring. I used the resources for the scheme of work from ME North East, a charity based in Durham: www.menortheast.org

Christine Frazer

Year 5 class teacher, St Catherine's RC Primary School, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

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