young people on quad bikes

Using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Everyday Life

by Liz Barraclough (articles refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

Eleanor Barraclough with girl friends

This is about Eleanor who is sitting in the middle of two sets of friends in the photographs.  Eleanor is now 16 and has left school.  All her life she has struggled to access ordinary life because lots of people tend to see her labels first rather than her humanity.  From the age of 11 Eleanor accessed mainstream school (article 26 right to education).

She really enjoyed her prom – one photo shows her in the middle with some of the young women she used to have lunch with every day. The other photo is with some male friends she knows and as her Mum…I’m not sure I want to enquire as to the precise nature of their relationship (article 12). We were all really impressed with the attitude of her friends at school.  You may notice that the young people in the photos have to hold her up to maintain her position – something they did naturally and readily (article 1 – equal in dignity).

Eleanor with boy friends

So she is just going through that transitional period from school to adulthood.  Eleanor did not achieve entry level qualifications and so lots of ordinary further education opportunities are not open to her.  We have opted for home-school education with the local authority putting in funds for support staff, activities and transport.  On her birthday the powers that be decided to administer this as an “individual budget” (in some countries this is called “self directed support”).  We’re finding this very flexible and person centred – it means that she is treated the same way as everyone else (article 2).

Eleanor was finding it very tiring to go through a full school day so we have adapted her programme to allow for rest, relaxation and physiotherapy exercises in the afternoon (articles 24 and 25).  Her mornings are taken up with activities.  These include:

art classes (painting ceramics at a local small business – thus sharing her communities cultural life – article 27)

cookery lessons and joining a mainstream health and social care class at the local VIth form college (article 26)

singing lessons with a local music teacher (this is article 19 as Eleanor’s main way of communicating is through song so she is being helped through singing lessons to express herself)

Using Human Rights in Everyday Life © Liz Barraclough (2011)

The publisher is ibk initiatives.

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