Jon and my childhood’s was as normal as our family could make it save from the frequent healthcare appointments. We went to school together. We participated in school activities, sports days, as you may have read Jon, being my big brother spent a fair amount of time looking after me (see The time Jon saved me from the bully). We went to our local scouting unit, at Halfway as Beavers and then Cubs. I really enjoyed my time there, we played games, learned, worked together and went on camps and adventures, all fully inclusive of Jon’s additional needs and I must give thanks to the Akela who ran the group as, adjusting the sessions to foster accessibility came naturally.
Jon and I were put in different sixes (groups within the group). I was in Blue Six and Jon Green Six. Within each group you gained merit points for appearance at a weekly inspection. Within each group there was a Sixer and a Seconder. The sixer was usually an older member of the group whose responsibility was to support younger members in undertaking general duties. One moment that sticks in my mind and still makes me laugh heartily was a moment when we were all sat round on the floor listening to a talk about some interesting subject (I forget what). There was absolute silence in the hall as we all listened to what was being said when all of a sudden there was a huge percussive noise emanating from my brother who was sat cross legged on the floor.
Silence. Then, Jon, cool as a cucumber, leant forward between his crossed legs, looked at the culprit from which the noise came from and shushed it loudly. Then looked up as though nothing had happened. The rest of the cubs and I then fell about laughing and Jon just smiled – he loved making others laugh and bringing joy to other’s lives. This indiscretion apparently didn’t hinder Jon’s prospects of moving through the ranks and at some point he was made seconder of Green Six. His six consisted of six young people and all of them looked up to Jon as a senior Cub.
For the young people in the Six, asking Jon, someone with a learning disability for help was the norm. Although tidiness was not his strong point he would ensure they were all stood to attention and in line with their neckerchiefs secure and handkerchiefs in their pockets. This process of normalising learning disabilities and giving people with a learning disability meaningful roles within groups and our societies is something I hope we can aspire to and can help to reduce stigma that limits access to many areas of our society. Perhaps there would be more freedom for farting in public too!