Two Form 5 students, George Edwards and Will Jones, have been working with a national charity, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, to successfully campaign for St Columba's College to be the first in the country to install new accessible toilet signage, tackling stigma and raising awareness that not every disability is visible, like Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
Earlier this week, the new signage was unveiled as part of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness week, running from the 1-7 December. The week is focused on helping fight stigma and promoting better understanding of these lifelong and debilitating health conditions that affect more than 300,000 people in the UK, many of which will be students at school.
A major anxiety for students and adults living with a chronic health condition, like Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, is being caught short, being refused toilet access or being confronted about why they are using a disabled facility. Whilst someone may appear to look ‘okay’ on the outside, they may be in a daily battle with a serious medical condition and urgently need to use the ‘disabled’ or ‘accessible’ facilities.
The new signage has already been rolled out to over 2,500 superstores nationwide as well as many of the UK’s major travel hubs. St Columba's College has now become the first school in the country to officially install the signage and will be working with Crohn’s and Colitis UK to encourage other schools to follow suit.
George and Will were inspired to take on the campaign with their school following valuable work experience they undertook with Crohn’s and Colitis UK, a national charity based locally in St Albans.
Andy McGuinness, at Crohn’s and Colitis UK said;
“The two boys have been amazing, they have really driven this initiative and are a credit to their school. Around a quarter of newly diagnosed patients are under 16 so its crucial to help raise awareness of these debilitating conditions in schools, tackle stigma surrounding hidden disabilities like Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and ensure that students get the support they need from their school.”