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I have lived with Vitiligo from the age of three. ‘Vitiligo is a long-term condition that causes pale, white patches to develop on the skin due to the lack of a chemical called melanin.’ http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Vitiligo/Pages/Introduction.aspx
I hated the white patches on my dark skinned body. I hated getting changed for PE, swimming and the summer when the patches under my arms, knees and pubic area were so bold and obvious.
I hated the way people looked at me and was painfully aware of the comments and nudges of passers-by. I was bullied – called ‘Alien’ and laughed at by kids at school.
I was put on different diets, tried creams and potions but nothing eliminated the pure white patches of skin that made me feel ‘less than’ everyone else.
I realised as I got older that I was stuck with this condition. Was I going to hate myself and my body forever? Things had to change…for me it was an ‘inside job’. I had to work on feeling good and happy with myself – to change the way I thought and felt.
I began to recognise that other people had things they didn’t like about themselves, some had far worse problems and disfigurements to deal with then I did.
I made a decision to turn away from the cover up make up I was offered and to begin to love myself for who I was, so that’s what I did.
I now walk tall and I am happy in my own skin. It hasn’t stopped me having a gorgeous man and beautiful kids. It hasn’t stopped me speaking in front of hundreds of people.
Of course I would rather not have it, but I have and that’s that.
Self esteem isn’t about trying to be perfect – it is about self acceptance.
What an honour and a privilege it is to now be doing the work I do and helping others to find self esteem, no matter what they dislike about themselves.
It is only recently that I got around to watching The Imitation Game and was so moved by the story of Alan Turing that my other half and I went up to visit Bletchley Park last weekend - the place where Alan and other incredibly clever people managed to crack the Enigma Code, helping to bring World War Two to an end.
Turing was an incredible mathematician and war hero yet was prosecuted for homosexual acts, and two years later, took his own life.
At Bletchley Park I found a letter, written in 2009, by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown granting Turing a posthumous pardon.
This got me thinking about how much things have changed  since then and reminded me of a recent conversation with my 18 year old daughter in which she told me about a conversation she had with a rather gorgeous gay friend of hers.
They were talking about how his parents still did not seem to realise he was gay despite the fact that he said it was pretty obvious from a young age! He feels sadly that if his parents do find out he will be thrown out the house and pretty much disowned.
My daughter asked him why he hadn't 'come out' to them and his reply was perfect. He said 'did you have to 'come out' that you were heterosexual to your parents?'
This statement alone is why I believe we still have some way to go...

NB: For those interested here is a link to an interesting article from just a a few of the thousands of British men who are still blighted by charges similar to those of Alan Turing.

I am so utterly delighted today to get home, after an afternoon teaching Year 3 children Sex and Relationships sessions, to hear that Caroline Lucas, the Green party's only MP, has had a breakthrough for her bid to make PSHE statutory. Today she requested that the Government introduce statutory PSHE lessons to children in England and Wales and she was supported by 183 MP's across parliament who voted in favour (44 voted against). 
I am obviously so excited about this and shall explain why...
PSHE at the moment is a non-statutory subject. This basically means that it is not compulsory for schools to teach it. However it is acknowledged during an OFSTED inspection. In 2013, OFSTED in fact said that PSHE was inadequate in 40% of schools. That's a huge amount of children who are growing up without the basic knowledge about themselves and how to keep themselves safe in this digital and highly sexualised time.
Having been a class teacher for over a decade I know, with teachers so hard pressed to tick sheets and achieve levels in academic subjects, that in most year groups I have seen PSHE lessons brushed aside for more 'important' subjects, week in week out. But what could be more important than our children and young people's health and wellbeing - both physical and emotional?
I commend Caroline Lucas for standing up for our children and young people and support her and the PSHE Association wholeheartedly in their campaigns. 
Now my new website is live I have decided that each week I shall write a blog rather than just adding interesting news (although I shall still continue to do this when I spot anything of importance to keep you up to date with issues related to health and wellbeing).

My thoughts this week are on the 'given' in our educational world that we use age as the criteria to group and teach children and young people in our educational system. Why do we do this?
I first saw another method whilst on a visit to an African School a few years back. Here children of all ages were being taught in the same class and on talking to the teachers, they were putting children in classes depending on their needs. Obviously they have to accomodate a whole host of issues we do not, but it did get me thinking.
In my years as a classroom teacher I have met many children who do not conform to this educational 'pigeon-holing'. They may be incredibly bright in one aspect of their lives but not so in others, yet still it is seen as mandatory that they stay with children who were born in the same year as them. Why do we do this?
Wouldn't dropping the stigma of going 'up' or 'down' and establishing a more fluid system where children's natural abilities and skills are the first place to decide which class they should attend, for which lessons, be far more beneficial to the individual child? Wouldn't this enable children to recognise the value in the skills they possess rather than the ones they are told they should have? Couldn't this then ripple through to create a highly skilled, confident society? Why are we still following a Victorian outdated method of educating the next generation when we have made such incredible steps forward in other areas of our lives?
With the mental health of our young people becoming a major issue in rich and poor, younger and older children... surely this is the time to get brave and try something new?