Harrogate students celebrate differences with Opening Minds

Jubel Ahmed, Lauren Doherty and Clare Flynn with pupils from Harrogate High School
Jubel Ahmed, Lauren Doherty and Clare Flynn with pupils from Harrogate High School

Groups of students at Harrogate High School have been learning about how to celebrate differences thanks to local accessibility specialists, Opening Minds.

Over the course of a day, pupils met with representatives of Opening Minds - a local team offering training and consultancy surrounding inclusivity and accessibility - including local resident Lauren Doherty.

Lauren was paralysed from the neck down following an accident in 2008 and helps Opening Minds in schools to encourage dialogue around embracing what makes people different.

The sessions challenge pupils to speak out about their impressions of differences, how they deal with them and then explore ways they could take steps to be more inclusive and less afraid to embrace their own or the differences of others.

The workshop also included Jubel Ahmed, representing CNG ltd, the latest Harrogate business to engage with and Opening Minds. Jubel was so impressed by the work of the team he asked if he could get involved.

Lauren said: “It’s amazing to see the students’ thought process as the sessions progress. The kids really seemed to think about the message we were trying to get across, lots of them really wanted to interact with us and I hope that the things they learnt yesterday will stick with them. I act as the example that differences are ok and we simply need to ask questions and stimulate conversation around inclusivity.”

Jack Flynn, a Year Seven pupil who participated in the sessions, said: “It was helpful to have someone come into school with experience of having a disability, because it helps us to understand what life is like if you use a wheelchair. It gave me the confidence to speak to people who are different to me.”