I’ve recently had a very close encounter with Discrimination. It came from an unlikely source – my children’s school. It all started with an email about the national ‘Walk to School Week’. As part of the school’s ethos to promote a healthy lifestyle, they decided it would be a great idea to get involved in this initiative. The letter acknowledged that it would be difficult for parents who need to go to work straight from the school run and encouraged those parents to try to make an effort to walk at least part of the way. At no point was there any mention of parents, or indeed pupils, who physically can’t walk. At the end of 5 completed days of walking to school the pupils who took part were to receive an award certificate. So, of course all the children came running out of school when they heard the news, eager as any beaver I’ve ever seen to partake in this exciting challenge and get their reward.
On voicing my concerns to one particular teacher I was told that they hadn’t considered that some people couldn’t walk but she was apologetic and tried to reassure me that a lot of parents won’t bother doing it anyway. Well, I’ll be blowed if I fall into that category! Never one to turn down a challenge I decided that I would do my utmost to ensure that my children took part and that they would get their certificates. Trouble is, our house is on the opposite side of the village, a good 30 minute walk away, and no matter how much I try to convince myself that I can walk, my body simply doesn’t want to play ball. As it turned out there were only 2 days on which I was available to do the school run; the other 3 were successfully taken on by my ever supportive parents.
Day one of my walk to school turned into quite a logistical operation. Unable to walk the whole distance but positively fuelled with determination, I loaded 2 of the kids into my car with their scooters in the back. My Dad loaded child #3 into his car. I parked a short walk away and my Dad carried on to park next to the school ready to give me a lift back to my car. On releasing the kids from the car, they scooted energetically off into the distance leaving me staggering slowly behind them. On arrival at my daughter’s nursery I stumbled into the classroom and collapsed straight into one of those teeny tiny tots chairs, swiftly provided by a very concerned looking teacher. I’d pretty much run a marathon, cycled the length of Britain and climbed the highest mountain to get there – and it hurt; but I did it and, more importantly, so did my kids.
This routine was repeated 3 days later, completing a triumphant week of walking to school. High fives all round! Award certificate – here we come!
Opening my son’s school bag at the close of the week I was excited to see that he’d received a certificate. There was his name. There was his teacher’s signature. And there was … WHAT?! … “Congratulations on walking or scooting to school… some days.” Some days? SOME DAYS?! I was fuming. Talk about adding insult to injury, rubbing salt in the wound and kicking you when you’re down. I politely stormed into the school and handed back the certificate, demanding a NEW certificate minus those abhorrent and somewhat discriminatory words, ‘Some Days’.
Three days later we are now in possession of a new certificate bearing the words, “Congratulations on walking or scooting to school… every day.”