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International Youth Day: support Hannah's petition

August 12, 2019

Today's UN International Youth Day, with its theme of transforming education, highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for children and young people across the world.

So it's a fitting day to celebrate the work that 16-year-old activist and online advocate Hannah Sweeney has been doing to make education more accessible for people with long-term health conditions.

Hannah developed M.E. when she was 14, and has experienced firsthand the difficulties facing young people with M.E. in accessing education that meets their needs. As a result of her condition, and a lack of appropriate professional support, Hannah is currently not accessing any education at all.

“I’ve felt let down by the education system. I was made to go on a reduced timetable and teachers forced me to walk and get stuff. They’d complain that I was always 'tired' and that 'I was not willing to learn.' One asked me 'Why do you always leave my class to go to the nurse? It’s every period.”I had to do this because I was exhausted.”

Despite the struggles that she faces, Hannah is determined improve the lives of other young people like her, with support from M.E. charities including Action for M.E.

In 2019 alone, she has already done so much. Some of Hannah's accomplishments include:

  • actively engaging with MPs and MSPs to show them the impact of M.E./CFS on education
  • attending a meeting with the Head of Education for Falkirk, supported by our team in Scotland, to raise the challenges that she has faced because of her condition, and ask them to take action
  • been involved awareness-raising events, including #MillionsMissing in Glasgow, where she gave her moving speech
  • sharing her story with local newspapers to help others understand the reality of living with M.E.

Hannah’s latest piece of work is a government petition calling for “Staff training and mandatory support plan for school students with M.E.”

“I started this petition in hope that I can change so many youngster’s lives that have missed out on their education because of their illness. Also so that every child has an equal chance in their education because their illness shouldn’t be a barrier.”

Could you spare two minutes to support Hannah by signing this petition? This petition will be running for six months and already has more then 1,100 signatures. Sign the petition here.