Leprosy is not something we hear about very often these days. It’s a disease that many of us believe to be extinct but apparently 210,000 new cases are diagnosed each year!
This Sunday coming – 28th January is Leprosy awareness day. When I was researching this all I could think about was the fact that we use the word leper as a way to describe an outcast, someone people taunt and make fun of.
Children and young people who’ve experienced early trauma often feel like ‘lepers’. They may identify with the feeling of being an outcast, different to others and somehow abnormal.
My family and I went to see The Greatest Showman at the cinema a few weeks ago and I have to say it’s the best film I’ve seen in a while. Whether you like musicals or not, whether the story of Barnum and the circus is accurate, the message of the film is powerful.
We can all feel ashamed of who we are, how we look, what family we might come from. In the film it touches on belonging, identity, inclusion and family. All subjects my children completely identify with.
What surprised me was the depth of feeling all my three teenagers felt for this film. The music has been played constantly in our house and my teenage boys show real emotion when talking about the message of acceptance.
There are so many ways we can help young people to work through their challenges. Media seems to be such a powerful medium and one that we can use to give young people permission to talk about their own fears and also demonstrate ways of dealing with those difficulties.
One of the songs stood out to us. It’s a big song in the film when the bearded lady comes forward and sings about the injustice of exclusion and the group of social outcasts band together to show they will not be ground down by prejudice.
Here’s a video of that number – This is Me.
This week let’s think of ways we can be more accepting of others and pay attention to the cries of help from the children and young people around us. I remember my daughter in Secondary School was sometimes dismissed when she complained about being picked on for being adopted. How can we encourage children to be more accepting of each other and show children that we will keep them safe?