4 Change.org petitions you should care about right now
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We're increasingly labelled the 'Snowflake Generation'; delicate flowers prone to taking offence and proving ourselves less 'resilient' than our forebears. Some might argue, however, that we're just becoming more sympathetic towards (and aware of) some of the sociopolitical issues that are impacting our society.
If anybody is going to attempt to improve the prospects of our future, it's going to be us. Though limited by time, money and resources, we still have an incredible toolkit to hand to make our voices heard – enter the power of the internet.
I'm here to bring attention to a couple of Change.org petitions that, as a student in the UK, you might just care about!
Eleven-year-old Jonathan Bryan, who has Cerebral Palsy and cannot speak, started this petition urging the Minister of State for Children and Families to improve educational provisions for children with similar disabilities.
Bryan states, "What brings me incredible sorrow is watching my non-verbal friends in wheelchairs miss out on the fullness of life because no-one believes that they are worth teaching literacy to… In my experience, non-verbal children like me can't be described as having Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) when they have never been taught. At the age of 4, I entered the special education system yoked with the label PMLD despite no-one having taught me; or have found a way for me to communicate… Underestimating special needs children is robbing them of their right to education and communication. Until this is seen as the abuse it is, nothing will change. Reforming the special needs curriculum must be a priority."
Access to education is a right that no child should be deprived of, and if you feel this way too, you could join the campaign by signing this petition.
As many of you are aware, members of the University and College Union are striking in over 60 universities in the UK over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme, which will leave lecturers £10,000 a year worse off in retirement.
This petition has been created by students and demands that the "negative impact these strikes will have on our degrees be recognised by the university. If we are to miss out on all the teaching, yet still be expected to sit our exams as normal, we call for recognition of the serious time we will be forced to spend teaching ourselves content, without the aid of our tutors, and the resulting consequences this will have on our ability to meet other deadlines in the meantime… As students, we feel this compensation will allow us to fully support the UCU Pension Strikes, together with our tutors, without fear of putting our academic results for the year in serious jeopardy."
So, if you wish to stand in solidarity with your lecturers over the pension disputes, but still want universities to address the adverse effects the strikes will have on your education, this is a petition you might want to look at.
Oliver Ball started this petition requesting that the Department of Education revised the way they tackle mental health in schools after he lost his friend who was struggling with depression.
Ball wrote, "Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health condition. Over a two year span, our country has seen a 70 percent increase in reports of self-harm in British children aged between 10 and 14. Last year the National Association of Headteachers carried out a survey and found that three-quarters of school teachers feel that they lack the resources to meet the mental health needs of their pupils…Many adults can trace the symptoms back to childhood so making mental health education a compulsory part of the curriculum could give schools the chance to stop mental illnesses early - or at least give people the resources to spot and understand what is going on with them."
Mental health is one of the most significant issues that students are currently facing; without the right provisions, we cannot fight to help solve the problem. You can make your concerns heard by showing your support and signing the petition.
Hannah Lawless has garnered a lot of support for this campaign which implores that free sanitary products should be provided in UK schools.
She shared her own story, stating, "When I was 12, and on my period, I was forced to borrow sanitary products from my school friends or use a tissue, as I felt too guilty to ask my mum for money. I knew we didn't have much money, and I also knew how expensive they were. This carried on through college. I would go to reception and tell them I was unable to attend the rest of my classes as I had started my period. They said that I could buy sanitary products in the bathrooms, but my maintenance allowance (EMA) was spent on ensuring I was able to eat. When I became desperate, I would save my lunch money to buy them instead of eating. "
Girls are missing school as they cannot afford sanitary products, being absent for several weeks throughout the academic year, which has an enormous impact on both their education and self-esteem. This is something that has already been recognised in New York, where free tampons are available in schools. Maybe it's something that should be considered in schools in the UK too.
These are just a couple of the many petitions that you should care about. They may not directly impact you, but they certainly could have a positive impact on the lives of some within your student community.
Change.org is a great way to show your solidarity with important causes and to establish your role in making sure the voices of our generation are heard.