I’ve had the real pleasure of working with a talented group of year 12 students at Stantonbury Campus, to explore how young people view medical bracelets in a secondary school environment. It was fascinating to hear their feedback on individual designs, but what I really wanted to see was how they saw (visually) a diabetes bracelet or epilepsy necklace fitting into their daily life.
It was critical that this came from them (instead of me). One thing my children have taught me as they grow older is that they need to view something through their own eyes, and want to do it, or it is unlikely to happen.
My son is currently in year 8 and my daughter in year 7. And it has been a real jolt seeing the social pressures and behaviour that challenge learning in a large secondary school. In short, the gloves are off.
Their day is no longer policed by benign stern looks from the teacher. In a large and diverse school the rules often seem set by the masses, with group-think deciding what they call something, whether it is fashionable or whether they will learn today. It is mine (and every parent’s wish) that they “learn to swim” ... staying above water and making the tough transition to thrive in this new environment where the rule book has changed.
Secondary school can be a tough place for someone with a medical condition or allergy. Not because of the H&S policies, student support counsellors or allergy free lunches. But because so much of their lives is impacted by what other teens think of their diabetes or allergy.
Medical alert bracelets are so important in making sure that critical medical or emergency contact information is there if needed. And an ID bracelet can help parents give teens the independence they crave as life changes. But I’ve never met a young person that wants to be “labelled” by their medical condition. They are growing wise to the issues around managing it. But simply strive to be a normal and accepted part of the group.
Our medical bracelets are designed with young people in mind. We strive to give them the designs and control over wording that will make sure they find a bracelet or necklace that works for them. As part of this journey, we worked with a group of students over six months to see how they view allergy bracelets, epilepsy bracelets or diabetes bracelets in a school environment. Unleashed with cameras and an open brief, it was great to see the open, honest, casual scenes they captured.
Colour, material and discretion (of medical information) were all important. But their images capture something else. There’s a flicker of promise here. Something that says “It’s no big deal. This can be part of my life and it doesn’t change who I am.” Let’s fan it together ... and more young people will feel like themselves when they enter the school gates.
Any favourite pics, or issues you’ve faced at school? Let us know below...
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