Today I stumbled across Falling Walls for the first time:
Falling Walls is a unique international platform for leaders from the worlds of science, business, politics, the arts and society. It was initiated on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.
Inspired by this world-changing event on 9 November 1989, the question of every Falling Walls gathering is: Which walls will fall next? Falling Walls fosters discussion on research and innovation and promotes the latest scientific findings among a broad audience from all parts of society.
I was giddy with excitement when I read up on Falling Walls Lab, an opportunity for young researchers, scientists or entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas, research projects and initiatives. The Berlin Lab takes place on 8 November and will feature 100 young scientists ‘with the ambition to breakthrough societal challenges‘ who each get 3mins to pitch their idea. You can watch this short video on the 2014 competition to find out more:
My excitement was short lived as I faced the reality that I’m not young in these terms and therefore not eligible.
Breaking down the indifference to disabled people dying
However, what greater societal wall needs breaking down than death by indifference?
Why does it appear that society is blind to this inequity?
Is it true that (learning) disabled people aren’t seen as fully human?
The Tale of Laughing Boy
Over two years ago Connor Sparrowhawk, known as LB short for Laughing Boy, died aged 18. LB’s death was entirely preventable. He drowned in the bath during an epileptic seizure, in a specialist hospital. LB’s mother had repeatedly told the staff that LB was having fits, yet for some unknown reason, they thought they knew best. This cost LB his life.
Hear the truth whoever speaks it
Research by the Confidential Inquiry into Premature Deaths of People with Learning Disabilities (CIPOLD) shows that in the UK learning disabled women die 20 years sooner than women in the general population and men die 13 years sooner. More than one in five of the deaths (22%) investigated during CIPOLD was of a learning disabled person who was under the age of 50 when they died.
This photo was taken in Berlin last month, at the Jewish Museum study centre. The shocking parallels between the fight for justice following the Second World War and the relentless struggle for JusticeforLB were not lost on me. Indeed one of the final displays in the museum showed how far we have still to go, and how long the road may yet be:
A lack of concrete evidence seems to feature time and again when it comes to securing justice. Southern Health appear to be protected by their own inadequate record keeping about their inadequate care, meaning there is little concrete evidence of their failures.
JusticeforLB – an evolving, organic, activist campaign
I’ve blogged about the evolution of the #JusticeforLB campaign here before and I also shared my thoughts on the failures in ‘care’ shown to LB. In a nutshell #JusticeforLB is an ever evolving, organically developing, activist campaign with great ambitions. The campaign is an amazing melting pot of online and offline activity, a blend of disabled people, carers, parents, family members, professionals, academics, activists, allies all intent on bringing about an end to death by indifference.
I’m not eligible for Falling Walls, but I sincerely hope that there is someone out there who is. A recent graduate or a PhD student. A researcher or entrepreneur who aligns with our ambitions who could go and passionately advocate for the wall of indifference to learning disabled people dying to be pulled down.
If you would like to fly the JusticeforLB flag get in touch on email or on twitter or on facebook. We have no money to support your endeavour, but we’ve buckets of passion and evidence and a desperate, desperate need:
How much longer can we continue to accept men and women dying prematurely? For no reason? Except that society does not view them as fully human?