9-yr-old Wins Back Blog Fight From Officials
When a 9-year-old student takes on the authorities over school lunch nutrition, the result is often inspiring. That is what happened in case of Martha Payne, a British school student, whose blog, “Neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk,” has weathered a ban from the Council authorities and is now back in business. The 9-yr-old has won back the blog fight from the officials with ample support from her fans, including celebrities like Jamie Oliver. Read on how David tamed the Goliath.
1) Martha’s Blog
Martha, a resident of Scottish coastal town, Lochgilphead, 130miles from Edinburgh, started her blog with a picture of her school meal, which, according to her, was not only uninspiring but also unsatisfying. The blog was set up as a writing project to help raise money for charity meals. Martha took permission from her school teachers to click photographs of her meals in school cafeteria and with help of her dad, Dave, she posted them online and wrote descriptions too. Besides, she also rated each meal on the Food-o-meter. For instance, on one of her blog entries, she wrote, “I’d really like to know where the chicken comes from so I am going to write to the lady in charge to ask. I know it comes from a hen but I’d like to know where the hen lived.”
2) The Popularity
In no time, Martha’s blog hit the one million mark and the young girl became and internet sensation. Martha responded innocently, “Whilst I was having my tea my blog went through 1 million hits! When I started writing this I thought only my family and friend would see it so it’s amazing so many people have visited and you all care about school food.” Since then, the blog has registered 2 million hits, which only goes on to show that Martha’s blog has hit the mark somewhere with people, not just in Scotland or Britain, but worldwide. The proof lies in her posts, which show children from all over the world sharing their school lunch photographs, along with descriptions. The students belonged to countries like the US, Japan, and Spain.
3) The Ban
Since Martha was trying to highlight the shortcomings of her school lunches, with the permission of her teachers, someone was bound to take an offense. In her case, it was the Argyll and Bute Council, which said in a statement that the photos were misleading and “had caused distress to the cafeteria staff.” As a result, one day the Council took the decision to “stop photos being taken in the school canteen.” On Friday, in a post titled “Goodbye”, Martha wrote on her blog, “This morning in maths, I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.” She was saddened as she added, “I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.” How heartbreaking does the girl sound, really?
4) Father Speaks
Martha’s father speaks up in support of her daughter’s endeavor. Her father was a bit pacifying, though, even he could not control his despair towards the end as he wrote, “I felt it is important to add a few bits of info to the blog tonight. Martha’s school has been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I’d like to thank them all. I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha’s photography. It is a shame that a blog that went through 2 million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly two thousand pounds for charity is forced to end.” In fact, Dave also told BBC, “The last photograph of a meal at school that she blogged, she gave it 10 out of 10,” which means Martha was not really misrepresenting the fact, as claimed by the Council.
5) The Outcry
The outcry prompted by the ban on the blog turned into an Internet storm in no time. She has support from individuals as well as groups like the “Index on Censorship”, which wrote in her favor. Celebrity chef activist Jamie Oliver tweeted “Stay strong Martha” on his Twitter account. He even asked his 2.3 million followers to re-post his message. Meanwhile, the charity donations to Mary’s Meals, which the blog is supporting, increased from $4,700 to more than $62,000 on Friday. In response, the Charity praised Martha, saying, “Martha’s support for Mary’s Meals has been amazing and we are extremely grateful for everything that she has done to help us reach some of the hungriest children in the world.”
6) The U-Turn
So, when the Council realized there was no turning back for the blog and Martha’s mission, it realized its mistake. In a U-turn, Council leader Roddy McCuish ordered his officials to lift the ban. McCuish praised Martha as “an enterprising and imaginative pupil” and added, “There is no place for censorship in this council and never will be whilst I am leader.” Obviously, Martha was relieved as she informed her fans on the blog, “I think you know why I don’t have a picture today but I will have on Monday! Thanks to everyone that has helped to get my blog back on track. I would have missed writing it a lot and I’m looking forward to sharing my dinners and yours.”
So, that is how, David vanquished the Goliath and with such support behind her, there is no doubt, Martha will continue her school-run for a long time to come.
Image Courtesy: neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk