Schools Talks with Champions

Face Equality in Schools

Changing Faces now has a team of dedicated champions who have all been trained on how to present Face Equality in schools. We are immensely proud of this group of volunteers; made up of individuals of various ages, around the country who all have a mark, scar or condition that affects their appearance.

You can find out a little bit more about each of them below.

They will discuss why it is important not to judge, discriminate, or ostracise people who have a disfigurement, whilst sharing their own stories about what it is like to look different. This introduces deeper experience and understanding in curriculum areas such as PSHE and Citizenship.

Bullying that targets appearance is prevalent across education, as shown in ‘Disfigurement in the UK’, with young people being widely exposed to media stereotypes and misconceptions along with the overall ideals of beauty. It is vitally important for pupils to learn that targeting an individual who has a disfigurement and abusing them in any way, is not acceptable.

As a charity, we strive for a society where everyone is treated fairly and equally, irrespective of appearance. We believe that working with schools to achieve that same goal is crucial in creating an inclusive school environment, but also in educating students on how to be accepting, respectful citizens, as they progress through school into their future careers.

If you belong to or know of a school that would like to learn more about Face Equality, please phone or email: Phyllida Swift, Campaigns Officer, 02073919286, phyllida.swift@changingfaces.org.uk.

Brenda

When I was 14 years old, all of my hair fell out. I was diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis. For many years afterwards, I felt very isolated and lonely. Despite this, I became a Butlin’s Redcoat and am now a performer, entertainer and model.

I understand the effect isolation can have. Trying to find a way to reach my life goals without fear of judgement was a daily struggle. Sometimes it still is.

Through my experiences and insight, I hope to encourage others to be the best possible version of themselves. We are all ‘different’ but everyone has anxieties and doubts. These feelings can keep us apart but are actually something we all have in common.

Natalie
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I am a Finance Assistant from London and have been a Changing Faces champion since 2014. At the age of two I developed Vitiligo – a distinctive skin condition where white patches form anywhere on the skin.

Being part of a ‘minority’ group often came with its challenges, especially during my teenage years. However, through gradually changing my mind-set, I was able to recognise the importance of self-love and acceptance. I am keen to share my past experiences in schools, because I believe, in current times, it’s easy to be influenced by the ‘ideal beauty’.

I want to show young people that being different doesn’t affect your quality of life. In my spare time I enjoy travelling, cooking and photography. I also have a blog called ‘Being Just Us’ which enables me to write about my experiences as someone with Vitiligo.

Debbie Debbie Lees

59 years ago I was born paralysed on the left side of my face. Sometimes life was tough when I was young, there were no groups like Changing Faces to help me to cope with the prejudices, stares, name calling etc. My life could have gone one of 2 ways, shut myself away as much as possible to avoid anybody seeing me or carry on regardless. Fortunately I chose the latter. I am now married with 2 children and 2 grandchildren, I run my own successful travel business and a couple of years ago I started doing some public speaking, telling my story and encouraging people not to let their appearance stop them from following their dreams. I believe that most people with or without disfigurement has a person in the mirror who tries to hold them back and I would like to help them step away from the mirror and be whoever they want to be.

 

Naomi
Naomi
My name is Naomi Smith, I am 23 years old. I am a Nursery Nurse. I am a friendly and caring person. What I would like to achieve with these school’s talks is to encourage everyone to not prejudge someone based on their appearance. I would also like for everyone to respect each other.

 

 

Tulsi
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I am a pilates rehabilitation specialist, Inspirational Speaker, philanthropist and most important of all; a life survivor. I have received 3 awards for recognition of my story and theempowerment I bring to others; Global ambassador award for LOANI (Ladies of All Nations International), WAW (Women Appreciating Women- Hall of Fame) and Lift Effect (Empowering Women).

I want to share my story to empower and create awareness about living with a disfigurement to children and young adults. I had my burns from a young age. I was fortunate that my experience in school was a positive one, however I also wished there was someone to help with my confidence or someone who understood my situation.

Schools are a great platform to educate young people about accepting who they are as an individual and nurturing their potential, regardless of their visible differences or physical limitations.
My goal is to share my story on a global scale and create awareness and empowerment. ‘Take a leap into the positivity- where fears disappear and opportunities appear’

Monica

I am Monica, 26, originally from Glasgow but now living in The Big Monica smallSmoke, London. I currently work for a professional services firm as a Chartered Accountant. I have been involved with Changing Faces in some shape or form since I was very young. This has included: attending Scottish Parliament events; abseiling from the Forth Rail Bridge; admin for the Skin Camouflage clinic in Aberdeen; and a being part of the fundraising committee.

More recently, I have spoken at the National Portrait Gallery event and I am now on the cover of Faces of Equality book, produced by Changing Faces as part of the Face Equality campaign. I love being able to talk about living with a visible difference and speaking out for those who have not yet found their voice!