Chris Scott was falling towards the ground above Long Island, New York, when he realised that something was wrong.
An experienced skydiving instructor with around 6,000 jumps behind him, this should have just been another day at work. Strapped to Scott’s chest was a tandem jumper named Gary Messina, for whom the jump was an annual birthday tradition.
But when the men reached an altitude of 175ft, the parachute that had been slowing their descent suddenly collapsed. It had most likely been caught by a dust devil, a small unpredictable tornado that is the bane of skydivers, as it forms in the same clear conditions that are perfect for their sport. More
World Braille Day is on 4 January and with that in mind we have chosen Libby Clegg as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the Month.
Libby is a champion Paralympian athlete who has a deteriorating eye condition known as Stargardt’s Macular Dystrophy disease giving her only slight peripheral vision in her left eye and she is registered blind.
Formerly a keen ballet dancer, Libby took up athletics aged 10, first competing in middle distance and cross country running before taking up sprinting, she burst onto the international scene aged 16 at the 2006 World Championships in Assen, the Netherlands, when she won a silver medal in the T12 200m.
Libby made her Paralympic debut in Beijing in 2008, winning a silver medal in the T12 100m. Later that year, she was awarded third place in the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year. At London 2012, Libby won her T12 100m heat in a world record time of 12.17 seconds to qualify for the semi-finals and in the final, she ran a time of 12.13 to set a new personal best and take the silver medal.
Crowned Commonwealth Champion in 2014, Libby had to miss a number of major competitions through illness and injury. She was reclassified as a T11 sprinter in 2016 and went on to set a world record in the T11 200m at July’s IPC Athletics Grand Prix Final. Libby began working with guide runner Chris Clarke in February 2016 and the pair claimed T11 100m and 200m gold at Rio 2016.
In April 2019 Libby and her partner Dan Powell became parents to son Edward, however she was training by the summer, competing at the World Championships later that year.
In 2017 she was awarded an MBE for services to athletics and charity and has been awarded Scottish Athletics Athlete of the year a record seven times.
Libby is an Ambassador for Guide Dogs for the Blind and has her own guide dog Hattie and helps to support them by raising issues in the media.
“The main pressure that we feel is the need to chip away pieces of our identity, just to feel like we belong.”
Katiann Rocha has experienced discrimination because of her hair, often hearing comments such as “messy”, “unkempt” and “wild”.
The 16-year-old is a co-founder of the Halo Code – a guide for schools and workplaces to prevent discrimination around hairstyles or texture.
“It will allow for black people to be fully accepted in an environment that celebrates their natural hair and styles, because we’ve been discriminated against it for so long,” she tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
The Halo Code explicitly protects students and staff at school and work with natural hair and protective hairstyles associated with their racial, ethnic and cultural identities. More
20 November is Transgender Day of Remembrance and with that in mind we have chosen Annie Wallace as our Diversity Champion of the Month.
Annie is an actor from Aberdeen. A former National Youth Theatre member, she graduated from the Manchester Metropolitan School of Theatre in 2004 and has appeared in many theatre productions. As well as being a performer, Annie writes and records music and is a skilled sound recordist and designer.
Annie is a patron of Mermaids a charity supporting trans and gender diverse children, young people and their families. Mermaids started small but has now evolved into one of the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ charities.
On 29 October 2015, Annie made history by becoming the first transgender person to play a regular transgender character in a British soap opera when she debuted as school headteacher, Sally St. Claire in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks.
Since starting in Hollyoaks, she has been regularly listed in the prestigious Rainbow List, Pride Power List, Diva Power List, and the USA OUT100, as one of the country’s most influential LGBT people.
She is a staunch supporter of transgender children, young people and their families. Her advocacy has seen her appear on Celebrity Mastermind, with Mermaids as her charity of choice.
October is Black History Month and also on 16 October it is World Food Day. With that in mind we have chosen Marcus Rashford as our Inspirational Diversity Champion of the month.
Marcus is a professional footballer who plays for Manchester United. He was bought by his mum who often struggled to afford food to provide meals for Marcus and his siblings.
The issue of food poverty for families and children had always therefore been something that Marcus was very keen to help with and he has been working with the charity FareShareUK to raise money to supply meals for 3 million vulnerable people. During the coronavirus lockdown the government insisted that food vouchers for families on free school meals would not be extended outside of term time so he decided to act.
He wrote an open letter to all MPs calling for the decision to be reversed. The letter drew on his own experiences growing up relying of free school meals and food banks. He asked that the government make the U turn to protect the lives of the most vulnerable which was not about politics but about humanity. In June 2020 it was confirmed that he had been successful in his quest and the government changed their mind and extended the scheme through the school holidays.
He has now formed a taskforce with some of the UK’s biggest food brands to continue the work to reduced child food poverty and backed proposals from the National Food Strategy, for an independent review of UK food policy. Marcus is confident that the group could help change lives for the better and is hoping that with a bigger team of experts he will be able to help more children.
We’re proud to be a signatory supporting this Stonewall campaign, along with over 100 other companies to urge the UK Government to make progress for the trans community.
As an inclusive university we fully support the public statement to say trans rights are human rights. We’re proud to show our support for trans people in our university community, and more widely in our local communities and across the UK.
You can consider writing a letter on behalf of your organisation to the Prime Minister and Women and Equalities Minister to outline your concerns about recent press reports, show your support for trans equality and urge the Government to give trans people the support and recognition they deserve. A template letter is included should you wish to use this.
You can find out more on Stonewall’s website and social media.
Khadjou Sambe, Senegal’s first female professional surfer, trains near her home in the district of Ngor – the westernmost point of the African continent.
I would always see people surfing and I’d say to myself: ‘But where are the girls who surf?'” says the 25-year-old.”I thought: ‘Why don’t I go surfing, represent my country, represent Africa, represent Senegal, as a black girl?'”
Reuters photojournalist Zohra Bensemra has documented Sambe’s training and her coaching of other girls and women. More