I was reading an article today on Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds. Her achievements are an inspiration and the article features quotes from her family and her teachers detailing her strength of character, her competitiveness and her determination. Her mother said that she was always like this from very young and her teacher said that she is the same with her schoolwork.
Paralympians overcome physical scars to achieve their goals. What about people who have deep-seated emotional scars from a childhood that was far from perfect? Children who were forced to be independent and lead their own lives in order to survive from a very young age. Children in care have inconsistent emotional support and most of them have attachment disorders (they are incapable of forming bonds with parental figures because of abuse suffered earlier in life). If you were born determined and competitive does this stay with you despite a crap mum and dad who can barely feed you, let alone support your personal ambitions?
I read a column by Guardian journalist Lucy Mangan the other weekend that touched on the inequality in standards of education. More specifically, the percentage of privately educated children that go on to Oxbridge and Russell group universities. She quite rightly argued that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to educational inequality. There are children born into a world of domestic violence and abuse. Many just don’t have their most basic needs met, such as a bed to sleep on, a meal every day, a book read and are left to fend for themselves until social services are called in. Having gone through the first four years of life existing in this way can you imagine what these children must go through when they start school for the first time? As Lucy put in her column, these children are exhausted before their education has just begun because they have been too busy trying to survive the hell that they have been born into. That is the real inequality. They haven’t even got a chance in the first place.
The Olympics and Paralympics aims to inspire a generation and I wonder about the generation growing up in the care system who have been watching the games? They may have been battered by their circumstances but do they have the strength to pull through and realise their ambitions? I would be interested to know of any athletes who have made it despite their childhood experiences growing up in care. Can you be born determined and still achieve despite suffering from attachment disorder? Adoption UK has a really good online animation – The Wall – that explains how abuse and neglect in a child’s early years can cause attachment disorder and other psychological conditions. Strength of mind overcomes physical barriers but does it work vice versa?
I hope you enjoyed this blog. If so please donate £1 to Unicef – the whole reason for my daily blog to combat child poverty and neglect worldwide. I am still hunting my first donation – so if you do donate you will be the first and I will thank you in my next blog. (the money raised so far is through the fee I pay to Unicef for missed blog days).
Thanx for reading.