I’m a rather proud parent at the moment (which is a massive understatement!). Gilbert has been busy raising awareness of albinism again and filed a rookie reporter report for Behind the News for International Albinism Awareness Day, June 13. I’m even more proud as this is not the first time he’s taken on the role of self-advocate for his condition.
For the first IAAD in 2015, Gilbert decided to present a series of albinism presentations at his primary school, attracting interest from local news outlets. He ended up being featured on ABC Newcastle 1233, both on radio and in an online article. This was followed up by a feature on NBN News. It was an amazing achievement for an 11 year old boy.
Not only did he raise awareness of albinism with his peers, he was also able to reach other members of the local community through the media. It was more than any of us had expected and it was a defining experience for him as an individual as well.
For IAAD 2016, he again spoke to his school but branched out to his local high school, as well as to two other feeder local primary schools. Again, he raised awareness in the local community while, at the same time, heading off potential bullying and curiosity by tackling his visible difference straight on.
He grew into his advocacy role further by speaking to the local albinism community for IAAD, the first formal get-together for local families. It was wonderful seeing him interact with other parents and helping his peers as well. I honestly thought there would be no way we could top that for this year.
Yet, here we are. Gilbert managed to increase his audience again this year, reaching young people all over Australia on BTN. A companion piece on the ABC website also spread the word nationally. They combined to amplify his message that people with albinism are just like anyone else, despite their visible difference and vision impairment.
I could not be more proud of my boy but I am rather worried at what next year’s IAAD might bring! How on earth can Gilbert top this year’s effort?