FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Self Harm Awareness Day is Thursday 1st March.
World Voice Day is Monday 16th April
Following cancer teens tell us that one of the key stresses of returning to their 'normal' life is being excluded from school life. They talk of being defined and judged for all the things they can't do and excluded from extra curricular activities.
James Carpenter, 16, was an A* student at grammar school. Following cancer the family received an email to stating he 'no longer fitted the ethos of the school'. He was asked to leave the school when his treatment left him unable to keep up with his peers.
James' mum says she was so cross to receive this and wished she had reported the school to OFSTED. Jane, 47, from Wallington, Surrey said "We're so worried about James's future, we worry he may never be accepted. His life is very different now, he has definitely lost confidence and doesn't mix with friends his own age".
Clarice Crothers, 16 was bullied every day at school. Clarice hates school and despite being a Leukaemia survivor she has self harmed and had suicidal thoughts. Mum, Kerry, says "My husband received a phone call from the school Head to say Clarice should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act". Clarice has never received any understanding for the trauma she has been through.
Monday 16th April is World Voice Day and as a mum with personal experience of having a child with cancer Dianne Parkes is speaking out in the media about returning to school following cancer to raise awareness of #R.O.C.K (Reaching Out to Cancer Kids) support project.
Dianne tells her family’s personal story behind the #R.O.C.K campaign
"My son Joss was diagnosed with an incurable cancer, a rare brain tumour. He was determined not to be defined by cancer managing to live and to love and even have fun and laugh. Having battled to return to his regular school, he was jeered at for his lessened ability and even kicked in the head three times causing a large swelling. He was also jeered at by older children as ‘the boy that was going to die'. It was heartbreaking and it got to the point where Joss was no longer wishing to go to school and we had to make the difficult decision to change schools. We were lucky, finding a new school with outstanding pastoral care, a school willing to accept the immense challenge of taking on a child with cancer. Because the school Head had received external training via a charity in handling sensitive situations surrounding child illness she understood the importance of finding creative ways to include Joss at school and Joss stayed until a month before he died"
"After Joss’ death we set up a children’s cancer support charity. Through our support groups we have heard the most horrendous stories of children being jeered at for their changed appearance and their lessened ability. When we heard of an 11 year old, a brain tumour survivor, committing suicide because of school bullies jeering at her changed facial appearance it was the final push we needed to do something to make change."
Amy, age 14, didn't feel able to be part of our film as she struggles with her speech, but she does want schools to hear her message. "I got really depressed going back to school. Many of my old so called pals have abandoned me, it's like I'm invisible to them. Most girls my age stress about stuff like having a bad hair day. I've had to learn what true struggles are. I've had to learn to walk and talk again and I've had to accept that no matter how hard I try, I will never, ever be the same".
School life is tough for the 6,200 children living with cancer in the UK, a reality which schools have not necessarily appreciated. Too often children are missing out on lessons, school trips and activities and even being denied access to prescribed snacks which is putting their health at risk. That daily challenge can impact a child’s chance of succeeding in school and isolate them from their peers.
Families report poor communication, the best interests of their child not being a top priority, no respect for the views of the child, poor access to extra curricular activities, silent bullying and poor understanding of the trauma the family have been through.
32% of all child cancer survivors are left with severe and disabling effects, most are struggling to cope in state schools.
Since 2014 it has been a legal requirement to have a medical conditions policy in schools, however in reality only about 10% of schools have plans in place. To be fair there are often logistic issues for schools, the guidance relies heavily on school governors writing the policies and on the quality and access to nursing services (which are subject to regional variations).
The families we support need to be given ‘a voice’ to make change and we’re hoping that influential people will get behind our campaign to ensure that happens. Please contact Dianne Parkes, email joss firstname.lastname@example.org. www.josssearchlight.org.uk (registered children's cancer support charity no. 1141704)
Joss Searchlight was set up to relieve the needs of children suffering from cancer and their families through the provision of a co-ordinated support service. We offer emotional and practical support via our Helpline, Support Meetings (social & group advisory) and via an Online Support Group of 1,200 parents. We enable vulnerable voices to be heard through our film work and awareness campaigns.
The charity was founded by Dianne & Nigel Parkes following the death of their 10 year old son to a cruel cancer (D.I.P.G, an incurable brain tumour) with the aim of bridging the gaps in support offered via the NHS.
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