from Darlington and Stockton Times by David Roberts:
The work of a service that helps children with Down syndrome integrate into mainstream education is being shared across Europe.
Two educational therapists from Belgium have visited the Education Centre for Children with Down syndrome, in Darlington, to see the work that is done there.
The centre’s work impressed the pair so much they said they hope to share it with their colleagues in Belgium.
Therese Caprace and Dominique Ruidant asked to visit the Education Centre after meeting its founder, Maggie Hart, when she spoke at a conference in Belgium.
Mrs. Hart founded the centre in 2004 after her son, Alex, was born with Down syndrome.
It helps children learn basic literacy and numeracy to complement mainstream education and also offers outreach work to support children and teachers in schools across the region.
When they visited the Darlington centre, Ms Caprace and Ms Ruidant said they were particularly surprised to see the work that the education centre does with babies.
Ms Ruidant said: “We don’t work with children that young. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it done.
“I’m very interested in it and would like to learn more about it so we could maybe do it in Belgium.”
Mrs Hart said she was pleased the centre was able to pass on some knowledge.
She said: “It’s been really exciting showing other people what we do.
“For other people to go off and implement what we do is fantastic, but they need to make it work for their own children.
“It’s lovely to share knowledge. I’ve found it very interesting. I presumed that they worked with babies, I didn’t know that they didn’t, so it’s been good we’ve been able to give them some advice as we find that early intervention is very important.
“It’s fantastic that we’re beginning to reach out from our little base in Darlington across into Europe.
“I’m so proud of the organization and all of the team that make it a success and be recognized in this way.”