Ffynone’s Business Manager, Mrs Laura Howden-Evans, has launched the ‘Walk in my Shoes’ initiative to give our pupils an exciting platform to celebrate diversity.
Here she explains to us why she is so passionate about the subject and how our students can get involved.
As well as being Ffynone’s Business Manager, I am also an Employment Judge. As such, I’m passionate about equality and diversity. I explained to students in my assembly that I hear discrimination cases, where someone has been treated unfairly because of their race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, sex. Essentially, they’ve been treated unfairly because of something that is an inherent part of who they are. Whilst some discriminators are inherently nasty people, most are just someone who is ignorant, who does not understand enough about what it is like to have a particular disability or to practise a particular religion. Often, they don’t even realise they have upset someone, let alone understand the impact they have had on another person’s life.
Empathy is a key skill
One of the most important skills any person can develop is the ability to empathise, to be able to walk in another person’s shoes and understand what it feels like to be that person. It was Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird who inspired me to become a lawyer and fight injustice when he says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Ironically, when I said I wanted to study law, I was told I wasn’t clever enough and my family didn’t have the right connections – this was another example of prejudice, being judged by your financial means or social circumstances.
Handing over to the students
I am proud to work at Ffynone with students and colleagues from such diverse backgrounds. Every single person here is a unique individual with their own talents, skills and experiences. I’m launching “Walk in my Shoes” to encourage pupils, staff and families to take us on a walk in their shoes in future assemblies. Teach us about your religion, talk us through your journey to Ffynone, help us understand what it is like to be dyslexic, tell us what it means to be vegetarian. We could be walking in your shoes or walking in a member of your family’s shoes, or in a friend’s shoes or in the shoes of a person that has inspired you, such as Rosa Parks or Stephen Hawkins.
In the words of Maya Angelou…. “In diversity there is strength and beauty,” let’s embrace and celebrate our diversity at Ffynone!