At NotDeadFIsh we take on projects that we can believe in. That we can get behind and where we know our skills and expertise can make a difference. All of our team have passion for the third sector and it is inevitable that clients and their causes will get under our skin.
Sometimes though some of the projects become more personal. For me that is with our work with the excellent Driver Youth Trust. A new voice in dyslexia sector the Trust has been quietly working for the last few years on Drive for Literacy - a whole school approach to tackling literacy difficulties.
As they now launch initial findings and a new free resource site for teachers and parents (complete with Eddie Izzard) one of the things we are helping them with is raising awareness – of the cause, of what can be done and of how organisations like Driver Youth Trust can help.
Awareness raising is such a buzz term. Many see it as ‘fluff’ or as the background to a fundraising campaign. But for me – for other parents of children with dyslexia – it is personal and it is vital.
It is Dyslexia Awareness Week and when talking about this and work to a friend they laughed and shrugged it off as a waste of time ‘because everyone has heard of dyslexia’. Well – do you know what, they haven’t – and when they have they don’t really know what it means and how it effects those who live with it. To hear first hand its impact take a look at this.
And a lack of awareness means people don’t pick it up soon enough. It means that people don’t take its impact seriously. It means kids feel stupid and alone and we waste the talents of the many people who have dyslexia or related specific learning difficulties – at least 3 in every classroom.
One of my daughters has dyslexia. She is bright, verbal and high achieving. She has struggled with dyslexia her whole life but because she’s clever and articulate she masked it – struggling on alone even in a house with an expert parent. Now – identified and with support – she is flying. She wants to be a lawyer or a politician (jobs with a high reading level and fast pace) and has already started a blog on what the system needs.
When I talked to her about the #youknowadyslexic (#ping) campaign she couldn’t wait to take part. Dyslexics across the country are sharing their photos in a show of solidarity – for my daughter knowing that other, clever and successful people are dyslexic, is empowering and she wants to share that with others behind her in their diagnosis.
My other daughter – 15, high achieving A grade student – was recently diagnosed with a really slow processing speed. A very specific impairment at odds with her general ability. For years she told me reading hurt her. We tested her eyes, introduced her to multiple genres, cajoled and pushed her to read. Homework was taking longer and longer and her coping strategies were collapsing. In an aware and able household we had missed her now – painfully obvious – learning difficulty.
So awareness raising – even with those who think they are aware – is essential. Reminding people. Highlighting the signs. Showing the impact if unaddressed and the potential if needs are met. Demonstrating how very easy most of the solutions are. And most of all sharing a sense of solidarity. These things matter. They are for me personal. And remember #youknowadyslexic but they might not yet know themselves!