Making the leap to secondary school

ERIC Young Champion Emily speaks about overcoming her fears when moving from primary to secondary school.

My name is Emily, I’m 11 years old and I have been diagnosed with an overactive bladder and a neurogenic bowel which means I have chronic constipation and slow transit. I started secondary school in September 2021 which was difficult as only a few people got to visit the school and look round. I had to make my opinion based on photos and from speaking to teachers online. In the end, I chose the school because it was smaller than others and I had lots of worries about people finding out about my condition.

I was worried they would be able to hear rustling from the toilets when I was self-catheterising and then would question why I was taking so long. Now I’m at school, that thought still crosses my mind now and again but really most people don’t care that you might spend a bit longer and they definitely won’t be listening specifically next to your door if you make noises.

Having someone you can tell at school

Image illustrating Emily's story

Before I started at the school, my mum contacted them to tell them about what my conditions were (overactive bladder and neurogenic bowel) and they have been very understanding. I have one lady who I know I can trust and who will do what’s best for me. I would definitely advise telling them because it makes you feel a little less isolated and stops the feeling that no one there will listen to you or understand your experience.

Using a toilet pass

My school, along with lots of others, has a special card called a toilet pass. It means I can exit the classroom to go to the toilet if I need to go during a lesson. All my teachers know what this card is and don’t question why I have it; they are just supportive and allow me to leave.

Dealing with bad days

Sometimes when I’m quiet it means that I’m not feeling great and things are playing up. This means I don’t interact with friends as much, which makes me feel alone and like I’m being excluded from my friends when I’m really not. Don’t worry if you feel like this, others are going through the same situation and you’ll be back chatting with them as soon as you’re feeling better.

Planning and support helps!

Now you’ve read about my experiences you should (fingers crossed) feel that some weight has been lifted off of your shoulders. I think it is important to talk about the changes and challenges you may face when moving from primary to secondary, as well as talking about the positives. Just remember, everyone is going through changes moving into secondary. Although we have additional needs to think about, with planning and support from your school, family and friends, I think the reality isn’t as bad as the unknown.

If you want some more advice about the move from primary to secondary, watch this video with the other ERIC Young Champions:

About the authors:

The ERIC Young Champions are a group of young people aged 11-18 who have come together to raise awareness around bladder and bowel problems. They've shared videos and blogs about their conditions to help others.

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