Why it happens?
"It's not you with the problem; It's the people who bully you." -Marcus
Marcus was born with a cleft lip and palate. He apparently had a gap between his lip and the roof of his mouth which led him being bullied at school by fellow pupils. After knowing the bitter truth from her son, Samantha, Marcus's mother, went ahead and took this matter to another level to seek help for the kids who suffered from facial disfigurement.
"When I came home, I just burst into tears and lay on my bed". -Marcus
After this, his mother Samantha reported the incident to the school, but they responded as if nothing had happened. And, then his mother sought help from the UK's leading charity on facial disfiguration called 'Changing Faces'. After narrating them everything about her child's day to day dilemma about being bullied at school, the organisation sent one of their representatives to the school to talk to the children.
Its founder James Patridge at the age of 18, had met with an accident and was severely burned in a car fire which left him with facial disfigurement. Now, his charity foundation is working for the relief of those who suffers from day to day facial discrimination.
The comments faced by those with facial palsy/disfigurement can be just as harsh and painful as racism and homosexuality. But this problem is not widely recognised. According to a study and reports by the charity in 2008, "Around 86,000 children under the age of 16 in the UK have a socially and psychologically significant facial disfigurement." This programme called "Face equality" is working on the same principal to spread awareness among the students at their early age and promote acceptance.
Caitlin at the very early age when she developed a benign tumor on the side of her face. Her mother Kim said while removing that tumor, they caught her smiling nerve and as a result of that, she developed a facial palsy.
While sharing her experience, Caitlin further adds, "They said I wasn't pretty enough to be in their group and they did not want to be friends with me because I was different and weird and did not match them, they all left me and isolated me because of my face". Ah! while hearing these kids stories, we might wonder sensibly, what's their fault? Alas, it's so sad!
Caitlin further adds that she has become more confident now since last one year, but still, she faces bullying online and gets some random comments on her Instagram photos like Oh! 'you are so ugly' or 'you shouldn't be taking photos like that'- So I started taking pictures of my half face.
As a part of Face Equality programme, both of the kids were invited to the Tetherdown Primary School in North London, and after having a discussion on how they were bullied and what do they feel/think about it, students took a test to see whether they see people with facial disfigurement differently or not?
They had arranged the test for two times and that was before and after their meeting with Marcus and Caitlin. Prior to the day's teaching, all the students took the test, and the results were shocking about the acceptance they showed after their meeting with Marcus and Caitlin. That is what this programme works on the principals of 'Equality and Humanity' for all.
Through education we can spread the awareness and can really hope, the children with the facial disfigurement can be accepted by their peers without any discrimination.
More power to you, Marcus and Caitlin!