Janice and Nathan with Lighthouse Trust summer school assistants Matt (back) and Robin (right).
My name is Robin Guy and I had the pleasure of being the senior assistant for the lighthouse trust for 2017. Here, I hope to provide an overview of the school from a few different perspectives as to what goes on inside.
The first and most important perspective is that of our pupils. Our school strives first and foremost to improve pupil’s mobility. Of course, every child is different, we have pupils from ages 5-25+ each with their own strengths and limitations. Some pupils, for instance, may struggle to communicate verbally, while others are more physically limited. Whatever the level of mobility, our school is flexible in building on pupil’s strengths.
This may involve teaching a child to stand more upright, sit at the table or simply straighten their arms, all enabling them to perform everyday tasks. We are able to see huge differences year to year from our pupils in their abilities that improve their quality of life. We build their confidence to be more independent for activities such as climbing stairs or using the bathroom themselves. These activities are certainly taken for granted by many of us but for children with cerebral palsy, there can be a great difficulty. As well, the physical development of our school provides a safe, nurturing social environment that enables pupils to express themselves free from criticism.
Finally, for our pupils, the school highlights Independent living. This is a core pillar of our program, as it gives the children the opportunity to experience activities like a trip to the shops or an afternoon bowling. This is of great benefit as it allows the pupils to feel capable of simply living like anyone else.
The second perspective is that of the parents. At the Lighthouse parents have valuable access to our expert conductors (specialists in conductive education) about how best to improve their child’s mobility. Unlike a physiotherapy session, our school provides regular exercise and education that allows children to improve at a quicker rate than through one-off sessions. As well as this, the community of parents and pupils are able to pass on insight to one another as to what can work for their child. Not to be overlooked, we also provide parents with some much needed time off and plenty of social outings!
The third perspective is that of our staff. The lighthouse trust is truly a wonderful place to work. Despite only a summer school, staff (who consist mostly of students) are given opportunities to develop their professional skills. This includes experience in special needs childcare, managing others, communication skills through working as a team, and most of all hard work! Our staff are able to use the school and go on and use the skills acquired in the working world, no thanks in part to the wonderful Joan Bruton! Our staff are able to take inspiration from their pupils and improve year on year learning new skills and facing up to new challenges.
The final perspective is that of you the reader. We hope that the Lighthouse, as the name suggests, is able to shine some light into your life. Through our plays, open days and community engagement in Donaghadee the school’s presence is felt by many. We are a charity that hopes to be transparent in what we do and all are welcome to come and join us on the journey of improving the lives of disabled children and young adults.
If you are interested in learning more about the activities of the School I recommend ‘liking’ our Facebook page “The Lighthouse Trust Summer School”.
Thank you for your support,