The transition from Primary to High School is daunting for all kids, but transitioning when you have dyslexia is even more daunting.
For Isley then aged 12, that period was full of trepidation and anxiety. After just two months of High School, she was pretty down on herself about her dyslexia.
In an effort to empower Isley I encouraged her to take some time to learn about all of the people in the world who are (or were) dyslexic and how they have learnt to overcome or even use their dyslexia to their advantage.
She began her research on a Saturday afternoon in March 2015 and was soon quite overwhelmed with her findings. She collected pictures of them and their stories and began to collate them into a video.
By Sunday afternoon the video was ready and we uploaded it to Youtube. When her dad & I watched it for the first time we got goosebumps; we felt instinctively that this was an important message. As we began to share it, we realised that it hit a cord with people immediately because it was empowering. In the days and weeks following the posting of the video it began to get more and more shares and positive comments so we floated the idea of finding the world’s most famous dyslexic to help us spread the word of the importance of being #likeadyslexic
We decided that without a doubt it had to be Sir Richard Branson.
We began a social media campaign asking people to help us find Sir Richard. Isley wrote on a piece of cardboard and we shared the image on social media. We gained a lot of support in this endeavour and before long we were given some contact details.
However, after a positive and promising start to our campaign to find Sir Richard, things went quiet and our search appeared to have been in vain. Then six weeks later we received an email from his Personal Assistant in the UK, saying simply: “Richard absolutely loved the dyslexia video. He’s asked if you could please congratulate Isley from him’.
We were more than satisfied with that response, we had after all, got his attention but within a few hours another email from his Public Relations Manager in Australia arrived saying that he wanted to help us raise awareness!
Within days things got very busy. Richard wrote his first blog about Isley and her youtube clip
Then we appeared on National TV with Richard; we did radio interviews with him and newspaper articles. Here was Isley, a tiny 12 year old from country NSW bravely stepping forward to talk openly about her dyslexia and her difficulties at school; encouraging other children to do the same thing. Richard and his team in turn encouraged Isley in her braveness every step of the way.
A few months passed and our family was offered the most incredible opportunity to meet face to face with Richard in Sydney. He passed on some great advice to the teens in the family about finding what you are good at and we laughed while comparing stories of how dyslexia affects your life and the little things that you just wouldn't understand if you're not dyslexic. It was an inspirational and life changing experience and one which served as a catalyst for what would follow.
It was around the time of this meeting that we began to talk about the need for a national organisation in Australia that could support families impacted by dyslexia. Over the next 2 years we set about coaxing the right people to work together to get this organisation happening. Which leads us neatly into the next story: the creation of Code Read Dyslexia Network.
Watch Isley's Youtube Clip