Diversity is the key to our survival

When we talk about diversity, I reflect if we truly know what that means – for all humans. Because as a species we are wholly diverse, we were meant to be. It is discussed so much across all areas of our lives, as something that we still struggle with, that we find difficult at times to acknowledge the true nature of who we all are.

“It does not matter what package you arrived in. Everyone needs a seat at the table.”

I recently shared our journey to #flipthenarrative at the TEDx NorwichEd this summer. It was the bringing together of thirteen years, of walking with my eldest daughter Ella, and our journey from a negative space to positive space and life renewed through new eyes. You can watch our story here.

As I shared in our talk, ‘It does not matter what package you arrived in, everyone needs a seat at the table’, and it is vital in our world right now, that we all pledge our support to this – that we turn the conversation on its head. No one is more or less than another, everyone has something that they bring to our lives as a whole, regardless of the differences we have.

Flip that lens

its not just ok to be different. It is necessary and it is human.My daughter Ella, has taught me more about this, than any other person I’ve ever met. She has fought quite literally for her seat at the table in life. Like so many, her difference and labels have often become the focus, along with her human response to our lack of understanding. ‘Behaviour’ is often seen first, as a negative, and something to be managed – but if we actually flip that lens, we can see that anyone of us would respond with whatever tools we have under excessive pressure. If those around us, cannot hear what we are trying desperately to say, ‘I matter, this is me, hear me, see me, walk with me and learn more about me,’ there will be a response. When we #flipthenarrative, and shift our lens, we start to see the world anew – absolutely and wholly diverse in every aspect.

Nature’s symphony

Nature is an example – the synchronicity with which it works, regardless of what happens when we interfere – there is a symphony about how it can grow around, or reshape to accommodate our often overly interfering human intervention. I spoke to Oshoke Pamela Abalu recently, ‘Licensed at the age of 26, as the 179th living licensed black female architect in the U.S…she is reimagining the future of work through ecosystem innovations like “Inclusion & Symphony” and “Smiles Per Square Foot”, where people and technology work side by side to improve lived experiences and amplify human potential.’

Oshoke talks about this in her recent TEDx Broadway talk – that we should look more to discussing the symphony within which we can live together, as one, because to survive and thrive, it is a necessity. It is necessary within our whole life and every space – education, work, home and community. The discussions that focus on how we are becoming more and more diverse as a species, suggest that this is new. But this is an illusion, skewed by a societal lens that aims to bring us to a conformed ‘norm’, one that involves measuring ourselves constantly against one another. With our world becoming faster, and focused on ever increasing efficiency, we have created a linear view that is so rigid, I often wonder how long it will be, before the majority of humans cannot fit into this space.

The view that diversity is increasing is true – not because it is new, but because people are not able to conform, nor wish to, to this rigidity and want to be able to be who they are. But we were never the same, nor meant to be, and we are beginning to acknowledge that our differences do not change the fact that we are all the same – human beings.

Our true human collective strength to survive, and find solutions to the problems we face together in this world, lie within our differences. We really need one another, we need to be different, it isn’t just what we are, it’s an absolute necessary part of all of us. The challenge we face, is how we can fit together in the shared space, in symphony rather than adversarially.

My daughter has given me so much hope, and daily shows me and many others how we can do that. We have to be able to listen to one another, learn from one another and walk with one another humanly. Rather than sitting ringside and deciding whether it is a good thing or not, discussing why we are so different, we need to be brave, show up and be in the ring daily with all of our fellow humans – Ella is there, every day of the week along with many others. It’s time we joined them, because our future depends on it.

Elly Chapple, Founder #flipthenarrative, author and TEDx Speaker, graduated with honours in HR and the Psychology of Human Communication. She has always been fascinated with human communication and behaviour, both verbal and non-verbal. She spent her early career working in businesses, managing and developing strategy for solutions focused approaches and building and maintaining relationships with clients. Elly has a passion and interest in equality and inclusion for all and her drive is to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table. In 2014 when her eldest daughter lost her vision through misunderstanding of her disability, Elly sold her business to come home and begin another journey. She recently did her TEDx at Norwich sharing their journey to #flipthenarrative. Elly is very keen that the trauma work ongoing globally, around the ACEs movement, includes and looks at the Institutional ACEs that are currently not within the conversation, she has worked with Dr Wendy Thorley and co-authored, with her and Ruth Whiteside, the book ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences ACEs: Why all the fuss?’

Over the past five years Elly has developed a unique approach (thanks to her greatest teacher – her phenomenal eldest daughter), to rebuild her trust in the world and work towards healing her trauma. Elly employs and manages an extraordinary ‘A Team’ of Intervenors and an ‘out of the box’ approach for education. She is currently writing Ella’s book about their journey and learning daily from colleagues in the fields of SEND, trauma, education, health and social care. Follow Elly on Twitter here.


About the author

Diverse EducatorsFollowing the success of Diverse Educators I and II, this #DiversityEd event will build on the celebration and showcasing of diversity, equality and inclusion in education. Diverse Educators III takes place on 11 January 2020. Book your ticket soon to secure your spot.

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