Since 1997 the Lighthouse Trust has organised an eight week Summer School providing conductive education for children with cerebral palsy. The school is held in the Parish Centre, Donaghadee, Co. Down.
Conductive education, which was developed by Andras Peto, in Budapest, aims to develop children’s potential; physically, socially and intellectually. At the Lighthouse Trust Summer School, we aim to develop a child’s mobility and social skills, such as washing, feeding, toileting and dressing. Our programme includes learning through fun; the content depends on the child’s interests, needs and skills. Games and activities reflect this: singing to improve breathing and memory, puzzles to enhance concentration and hand function, obstacle courses to develop mobility and balance. Older children learn basic skills to enhance their independence; such as simple cookery and personal care.
As each child’s need varies, we work on a one to one basis. Each child works with a conductor (teacher/therapist) and an assistant. We employ a caterer to provide nutritious food, which is essential for the children as they work hard.
We aim to encourage the children to take their experience at the summer school into their everyday activities, in order to increase the children’s independence and self esteem throughout the year. After school, outings which reflect the children’s interests are organised; typically these would include a trip to W5 (a science museum for children), barbecues, bowling, swimming, ice-skating, glass painting and ceramic painting. At the end of each month, the school stages a play or musical. We try to involve the children in decision making as much as possible.
We are a cross community organisation with children coming from all over Ireland and the UK. Most of the children have mobility problems. Most of them have additional disabilities such as sight or hearing limitations, speech delay, feeding difficulties, epilepsy and behavioural problems.
All employees and volunteers have been police checked and have undertaken certified Child Protection and Manual Handling courses. The school follows the Safeguarding Trust programme. We are a small organisation which does not receive any state funding. For our income, we depend on grants and donations with the balance being met by fees charged to the parents. Our Trustees have tried to make the school accessible by subsidising the fees. Over the winter months, we fundraise and all money is used to form a fund to give grants to reduce the costs to parents.
The work done by the Lighthouse Trust changes the lives of the children and their families and ensures that they have a fun filled summer.