Amazing Young People

We had a subject at school called RE, which was short for Religious Education. I did it for two years, and the ‘education’ consisted of copying down basic information about religions. I dropped it as soon as possible. These days there is a subject called Philosophy and Ethics, which explores moral and philosophical issues, and looks at them from the perspective of different belief systems. I recently had the privilege to meet students aged 15-17, studying this subject. I talked about my life pre-ALS, and about the past twelve months. We then had a Q&A session, where the students asked the deepest questions. I’ll keep those questions and my answers between us. I was overwhelmed by the maturity, sensitivity, politeness and intelligence of the young people I met. The two days I spent at the school were amongst the best I have ever had. Thank you to everyone who made it possible.

Those who made it possible also included those who enabled me to travel there. I took my wheelchair for the first time. Help to get dressed, breakfast made, shoelaces tied, overnight bag packed, walk to taxi, help into seat, help out of seat, help into wheelchair, push to Virgin Trains Assistance, push to toilet, off wheelchair, on toilet and vice-versa, push to waiting room, push up ramp onto train, help into train seat, help into wheelchair, Virgin Trains Assistance push me down ramp, push to car by school team, help into car, help out of car, help into wheelchair, push into school. And so it continued. I, and all the wonderful people helping me, are learning a new way of moving around. It requires massive effort from me and everyone.

A disheartening experience on the way back. Four men from Sky Betting and Gaming on the next table. It struck me the UK doesn’t need the latest developments in betting and gaming. I had spent two days with people working their guts out to help children make something of their lives and with great children; then I listened to these guys go on. My sense of frustration was heightened when they discussed a female associate in a derogatory way. 

Back to the students; it’s you and our time together I’ll remember.

Author: Andrew Knowlman

I am a 50-year old father of two children, married to Jane. I live in Hertfordshire, UK. I was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in April 2015.

2 thoughts on “Amazing Young People”

  1. When you came to our school it was such an insperation and I am so greatful that you came, it made me really think about my opportunities in life and made me appreciate what I have, it was also so uplifting to see you appreciate your life and continue to be strong throughout, I will never forget the experience you have inspired me thank you so much

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