Bishopbriggs Academy pupil nominated for national diversity award

Lennoxtown's CiaraLennoxtown's Ciara
Lennoxtown's Ciara
A Lennoxtown teenager has been nominated for a prestigious national diversity award in the category of positive role model.

Ciara McCarthy’s nomination is in recognition of her campaigning work to make mainstream education more diverse and disability-aware.

In 2021, Bishopbriggs Academy S6 pupil Ciara (18), founded The Inclusivists, a small group of students from different backgrounds and experiences, with the aim of raising the profile of marginalised groups within mainstream education, starting with disabled people.

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The group primarily focus their work on social media platforms and they have produced presentations for teachers, giving them guidance on diversity and disability awareness.

Ciara herself is profoundly deaf and has cerebral palsy and autism. She says she began campaigning because of the negative attitudes and bullying she experienced growing up in mainstream education.

Ciara’s work has also received praise in the Scottish Parliament. Rona Mackay, MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden, recently tabled a motion in support of her nomination and her work to raise disability awareness in schools, describing Ciara as “a powerful voice”.

In addition to her own campaigning work, Ciara works with the National Deaf Children’s Society as a Changemaker. They are made up of deaf young activists from around the UK working to improve their communities for deaf young people.

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Ciara lives with her parents Shona and Kevin. She has two sisters, Orla, 21, and Eimear, 14.

The National Diversity Awards are held on September 16 in Liverpool.

Ciara said: “As a person with multiple disabilities, I felt that there wasn’t enough representation surrounding my experiences going through mainstream education and I wanted to become that representation for young disabled people.

“I intend to continue my campaigning journey into my future and become a disabled activist. I hope the work I do will inspire future generations of young disabled people and encourage them to do anything that they want.

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“To all disabled students, I want you to remember that you’re important and you deserve to be treated equally by everyone. I’m proud of you and I hope you’re proud of yourselves too.”

Shona, Ciara’s mum, added: “We’re incredibly proud of how she’s overcome all the hurdles and challenges she’s faced. Our hope for her is that she’s able to achieve the independence she desires and eventually forge a career in her passion for activism.

“This nomination is just amazing recognition for all her efforts in getting the message of equality and diversity for all marginalised groups in mainstream education out there.”

Mark Ballard, head of policy for the National Deaf Children’s Society in Scotland, said:

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“Ciara has been doing fantastic work in her school to improve disability awareness and increase inclusion for everyone. As a charity we work hard alongside young people like Ciara to ensure deaf school students are given the support they need to achieve the same as their hearing peers, and to give teachers the deaf awareness they need to help make this happen.

“Like her, we want every pupil to be able to look back on their schooldays as a time when their rights were respected and they were given the opportunities they needed to flourish.”

Ms Mackay’s motion, which received cross-party support from 22 fellow MSPs can be found here:

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