Playground bullying can teach us about Inclusion

Bullying because of Difference.

Over the years we have had our fair share of episodes when out and about with Conor, where children/tweens and even teenagers have laughed at him for the way he behaves or looks and have imitated the way he communicates (through verbal screeches, sign language and now through an electronic device). I am hoping all the mocking and imitating has gone over Conor’s “head” during his short life. But of course I cannot know for sure as he cannot tell me, sometimes he will cry on car journeys home, quietly to himself in the back of the car. I do my best to cheer him up while I drive home devastated that even now in 2018, children like my son are bullied for reasons far beyond their control. I can never know for sure if he understands that he has been mocked or belittled by a stranger, and that makes it all the more worse.

If you don’t have children who have special needs or who look different or who act different, then you may not have ever had to console them while they cry into your chest wondering why they can’t be “normal” and why “nobody” likes them just the way they are. You and your child are one of the lucky few if you have never had to endure or experience what so many children/adults with additional needs have had to, just because they don’t “fit” what some in society consider is “normal”.

A mom contacted me recently over on my Facebook page about a video I shared. She has a son with a physical disability and the film I shared struck her deeply, she went on to tell me her son has experienced extreme bullying throughout his short life because of the way he was born. The film I shared was an animated short-film (which to date has won countless awards and is up for no less than an Academy Award in the New Year!).

Image via Youtube

The short film is called “Ian”, it is, at its heart, about Inclusion. More interesting to me is that it is based on a true story.

Ian is a Fourth Grade Student (that’s the equivalent of 4th Class in the Irish School system), who wants the message of love and acceptance to reach the world. Ian has cerebral palsy. The film has no dialogue, to make its message universal for all. Ian’s mother: Sheila Graschinsky, is the reason the short film came about. Conscious of how her son was perceived and treated as a result of his disability she wrote a book about everyday family life raising children with disabilities. She created the book so that it could be handed out to children who made fun of or mocked her son. Her proactive approach to combating her son’s bullies led to the creation of this beautiful film.

Image via Youtube

Why am I writing about it? I want you as a Parent/Teacher/Carer/SNA, whoever you are and whatever your involvement is with children; SHOW them this movie. It would take a heart of stone to not feel empathy for the main character Ian. I think as a teaching lesson it is an excellent forum for discussing the effects of bullying and not accepting others for who they are. It is a great film to encourage children to put on the “shoes” of another child who may have been excluded from their social circle (intentionally or otherwise) because they’re different.

The film itself is only 7 minutes long. With this film you have the opportunity to: encourage children and adults to become more welcoming of difference and ultimately, inclusion.

To find out more about the Short-Film: IAN, you can watch it HERE and go HERE to find out about the multiple awards it has won and the impact it is having around the world.


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