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Dyslexia ambassador crafting change with art, advocacy

 Mark Stoddart, a Scottish sculptor and designer with more than three decades of experience in the art world and advocate for dyslexia awareness. [File, Standard]

Meet Mark Stoddart, a Scottish sculptor and designer with more than three decades of experience in the art world. 

But Mark is not your average artist -- he’s a tireless advocate for dyslexia awareness. He is on a mission that transcends mere creativity — it’s a journey of empowerment and transformation -- making a difference in the lives of dyslexic individuals worldwide. 

From exhibiting his work to the likes of the King of Saudi Arabia to Sir Elton John, Mark’s artistic prowess has gained global recognition.

But his path hasn’t always been smooth. His education and career have been marred by the challenges of a widely misunderstood condition — dyslexia.

According to the Dyslexia Organisation Kenya, dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that causes problems with reading, writing and spelling but does not affect the individual’s intelligence.

According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects approximately 15-20 per cent of the world’s population. This means that 1 in every 5 individuals has some form of dyslexia. Additionally, it is estimated that boys are more likely to be diagnosed with dyslexia than girls.

“Dyslexia is a tough nut to crack,” Mark shares, reflecting on his struggles with the condition. Growing up, he grappled with reading, writing, and coordination, silently enduring the ridicule and stigma that often accompany dyslexia.

He recalls his school days, where he faced taunting and humiliation. 

“I kept a lot of my struggles to myself,” Mark confessed. “I felt like I was letting my family down.”

But everything changed when he attended a specialised school for dyslexic learners in Sussex — Brickwall House School (now Frenwen College). Here, Mark found acceptance and support, igniting his confidence and setting him on a path of self-discovery. It wasn’t just a turning point for his education; it was the birth of his artistic journey.

Mark’s struggles with dyslexia have fueled his mission to effect change, hence a project he is working on during his latest visit to Kenya.

At the Rare Gem Dyslexia School in Kitengela, Kenya, Mark is leading the charge in revolutionising dyslexia education. He has collaborated closely with the school’s directors, helping to secure funds for its construction and addressing other essential needs.

“Through innovative teaching methods and personalised support, I aim to empower dyslexic individuals to realise their full potential,” said he.

His approach emphasises early identification and tailored resources to ensure every learner receives the support they need.

Collaborating with experts like Kate McElvery, Mark is bringing cutting-edge teaching methods to Kenya. His goal? To give dyslexic children the same opportunities he had—to embrace their uniqueness and learn in a way that suits them best.

And he’s not just talking the talk; he’s actively advocating for inclusivity and support, both locally and globally.

Mark’s artistic endeavours serve as a powerful medium for raising dyslexia awareness and challenging societal perceptions.

Through his sculptures, designs, and exhibitions, he fosters dialogue and inspires individuals to embrace diversity.

Driven by his own experiences, Mark is dedicated to effecting positive change on a global scale. His influence extends beyond borders, as he strives to bring early intervention programs to dyslexic learners worldwide.

Mark shares his dream of establishing similar initiatives worldwide.

“Dyslexia isn’t a barrier,” he insisted. “It’s an opportunity for individuals to think differently and contribute their unique perspectives to society.”

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