Catriona Rowley

Get involved in Learning Disability Week

Catriona Rowley, Implementation and Involvement Officer at SCLD, blogs about our plan to spread the word about Learning Disability Week through photos, flags…and penguins!

In the past few months, SCLD has hosted two events in The Steeple Church in Dundee to hear the views of people with learning disabilities in the area. Each time, we’ve stopped to look at the famous Dundee Penguins, which stand just outside the church.

For those who don’t know, the penguins are small statues put in place to commemorate Scott of the Antarctic’s voyage on the ship ‘The Discovery’, which was built in Dundee.

Local people often dress the penguins up to commemorate events, such as in this photo where they wear purple to mark Alzheimer’s Awareness Day.


I thought it would be a great idea to get the penguins involved in Scotland’s national Learning Disability Week from 15th– 21st May 2017. Learning Disability Week in Scotland still isn’t as widely known as we would like. I thought that if we could involve local landmarks such as the Dundee Penguins, we could raise awareness on social media that would go beyond the learning disability sector.

2016 was the first year that we created free promotional packs for Learning Disability Week. This was an idea we had to help people spread the word by wearing badges and stickers and displaying posters. This year, we want to encourage people to use the free flags included in the pack to help us to raise awareness.  Taking a photo of the penguins posing with a flag seemed like an easy way to get them involved. But of course Learning Disability Week is for everyone in Scotland, not just Dundonians.

We want people across the country to take photos of themselves by a local landmark, add them on Facebook or Twitter, tagging @SCLDNews and including the hashtag #LDWeek2017. Also, please tag the location or the landmark!

We managed to turn an idea born on a visit to Dundee into a way that anyone in Scotland can participate in Learning Disability Week. It’s easy, it’s fun and if enough people take part we can spread the word of Learning Disability Week across the country.

To get the ball rolling, I had my photo taken next to the statue of Sir Jimmy Shand when when I was at a family party in Auchtermuchty in Fife.

The flag isn’t as visible as it could be but  Sir Jimmy is holding it up and showing his support for Learning Disability Week!

Sir Jimmy is an appropriate figure to start the campaign with as he has a link to learning disability. His sons Jimmy Shand junior and David Shand followed followed in his footsteps and also played traditional music.  I have seen his son David, who had Down’s syndrome, play drums in a band at a concert in the day centre he attended. He could hold a rhythm as well as his Dad could. David also shared his father’s gentle manners and as well as being a musician was a skilled dancer and keen gardener.

He could hold a rhythm as well as his Dad could.

If you already have a pack, now is the time to get out there with your camera! If you don’t have a pack but would like to help us to raise awareness of  the week, please don’t worry – we’d still love to see your photos!

We look forward to sharing your photos and seeing your local landmarks!

You can also download a range of free, printable resources at the bottom of this page.

Find out what’s happening in your area here.