Hedley’s College Students Spread Awareness and Education in the North East

A group of our students has been nominated alongside Newcastle College for a North Education Award for Community Engagement, after embarking on a journey to raise awareness and education through disability awareness training across the North East.

In 2022 a group of learners from Hedleys College had a discussion to look at how they could educate society and spread awareness of how society can adapt to ensure everyone with a disability is given an equal opportunity and are not discriminated against. After in-depth discussions with the group who have a range of physical disabilities, it became clear that there are many factors within society obstructing them from having the same opportunities as a neurotypical person.

They decided to put together a ‘Disability Awareness presentation’ that they could deliver to new employees at the Percy Hedley Foundation. The students put the presentation together by discussing their own disabilities and personal barriers they face within the wider community and how they need to overcome unnecessary barriers on a daily basis.

The first time the group delivered the presentation was in front of 10 new employees at the foundation as part of their induction training. Some of the students were extremely nervous. At one point one of the students said he couldn’t speak in front of this many people, but his peers spurred him on and gave him reassurance which was amazing to see.

The group went to the front of the room and delivered the presentation which was a positive step forward for everyone involved. At the end of the presentation, the student who nearly didn’t enter the room bellowed out an almighty “get in, we’ve  done it!” The group then delivered the presentation to the foundation’s new staff a number of times over the next few months, and their confidence and passion for educating others about disability awareness began to grow.

The group received funding from British Engines to purchase merchandise they could take along to future presentations and hand out to participants. They decided key rings, fridge magnets, placemats, and bookmarks would be good to hand out as they would always be on show as a reminder of the presentation.

The group then branched out to educate those outside of our own environment and were asked to visit Newcastle College to deliver the presentation to a group of Health and Social Care students. This was extremely successful and since then, our students have delivered regular presentations to Newcastle College, all having a positive impact in spreading awareness within society.

Looking back to the first time the group delivered the presentation to 10 people, to now delivering it to around 60 people in a lecture theatre, was absolutely amazing! The confidence and determination each individual shows whilst at the front of the lecture produce a support network and team ethic.

Two of the group’s original members, Harry and Sol, have been asked by Newcastle College to deliver one of the modules in their Health and Social Care course regarding disabilities, positive risk-taking and support plans, which will run over four sessions. Harry and Sol have put the sessions together, and on March 6th 2023, they took the leading role in delivering their first session to the social care students. The session was a great success and students at Newcastle College had great feedback.

“I thoroughly enjoyed today’s session with Harry and Sol and was good to hear their thoughts on care plans etc an how important they feel they are”.

 “I thought the session today was amazingly taught and it was enjoyable throughout. It was really interesting to find out more from their point as an individual who requires a care plan and additional support of how they feel things should be or have been changed from past experiences. They were a great laugh! I also liked how involved they were during the session with the different activities we done. I hope they enjoyed the session as much as we all did!”

“Really enjoyed today and looking forward to the other sessions with Harry & Sol. Listening to their own personal experiences on care plans was interesting, they should be proud at how great they ran today’s session!”

A few weeks ago, the group were invited to the Discovery Museum to deliver their Disability Awareness Presentation as part of a half-day session in educating people about disabilities. Again, the group did this with ease and have grown an appetite for their mission to change society for the better.

Soon they will visit the head office at Nexus to deliver their presentation and discuss accessibility on the metro and metro stations to break down barriers and ensure accessibility for all.

In June 2022, they delivered Disability Awareness to 150 year 5 and year 6 pupils at Collingwood Primary School. The group set up in the hall and waited anxiously for the children to arrive, with this being the first time they had delivered the presentation to children, they were unsure how it would be received.  Once the children arrived and our students began the presentation, you could see the children’s minds ticking over as they took in all of the information our students were giving them. At the end of the presentation, the children asked many questions which our students were more than happy to answer. This was such an extraordinary day that will remain with these children throughout their lives and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on society. On the return to college, one of the students said, ‘this has been the best day of my life!’ which was the icing on the cake.

This group of students embarked on the Disability Awareness journey hoping they could reach out to new employees within The Foundation and never dreamt it would become what it is today. They have left a positive imprint on every individual they have delivered the presentation to and will continue their mission of educating society about disabilities and how we can break down barriers to enable everyone to reach their potential without discrimination.

The group has now been nominated alongside Newcastle College for a North Education Award for Community Engagement for their fantastic efforts, and we can’t wait what more they can do.

If your business or organisation is interested in the amazing disability awareness sessions we deliver please email your details to events@percyhedley.org.uk for more information.