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May 22nd 2024

Breaking down barriers in our Mighty Girls Challenge

Pupils at the Junior School were delighted to meet Cerrie Burnell, children’s author, disability activist and former CBeebies presenter, who hosted a wonderful awards assembly to celebrate our flagship Mighty Girl Challenge. The assembly was particularly meaningful as it took place during Limb Difference Awareness Month. 

As many families will know, the Blackheath High Mighty Girls Challenge is as an activity-based programme for Years 2-5, designed to inspire pupils to be Ambitious, Brave and Curious (ABC) and to foster the key skills the UN predicts will be central to the future workplace including resilience, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.  

Cerrie was wowed by an opening demonstration of just some of the achievements of the Mighty Girls, which included a juggling display, old clothes which had been upcycled into new items, a range of home-made bird feeders and a demonstration of key phrases in BSL. She then inspired pupils with the story of her own ambition, bravery and curiosity. She explained how from a young age she knew she wanted to be a performer but met repeated rejection because of her disability – as a girl, being offered the role of Hook rather than the treasured part of Tinkerbell in Peter Pan; as an adult, auditioning as a main character in a renowned kids' programme and instead being offered the role of ‘Amputee’ - a role written for a middle-aged man. 

Pupils were enthralled by the story of her journey, from being told that her acting career would never be successful; through years of sending out endless letters and CVs to producers; to finally getting her big break on Grange Hill and then as a CBeebies presenter; to her most recent achievements which include publishing several books, many with girls with disabilities as their main characters. Picking up on the themes of her popular children’s book ‘Harper & The Scarlet Umbrella’, Cerrie also invited pupils on to the stage to devise the most creative uses for an umbrella – from a giant cup for apple juice, to a boat to sail away across the seas. 

At the end of the assembly, pupils from Year 6 awarded Cerrie with an Honorary Mighty Girl certificate, in recognition of her own Ambition, Bravery & Curiosity. 

Junior School Head, Sarah Skevington, commented, “Cerrie was absolutely wonderful - her assembly was creative, inspiring and above all, great fun. Her story of resilience and ambition was remarkable, and one that our girls – as well as attending staff and parents - will remember forever. We hope her experiences and her wise words will inspire the next generation of Blackheath High Students to be curious, brave and know that they can achieve whatever they set their hearts on.” 

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