Monday, November 11, 2013

You can help make a huge difference to children's lives

Being involved with a charity is incredibly hard work and you do feel very responsible, but at the same time it is an extremely rewarding experience.
When my daughter Rachel was born eight years ago, she was diagnosed with Down's syndrome shortly after her birth.
There were 15 children with Down's born that year in Hull – more than usual.
Over the course of the first year or so, I would come into contact with a few parents with children with the condition. I met Lisa Bentley when both our children had turned one.
Lisa was a teacher whose little boy Isaac had Down's syndrome. Lisa wanted to set up a "singing and signing" group for children with the condition.
We both felt there was nothing for our children or for parents locally – and this is how Downright Special was born.
It takes up a lot of our time running a charity, but we know it is making a huge difference to our children's lives.
Our main focus is on education. Many of our school-age children attend a mainstream school, but every two weeks they come to our charity headquarters in Bodmin Road, Hull, with their teaching assistants, and have very focused lessons in small groups.
Our babies and pre-school children come every week for play and education sessions, where parents can learn and share advice and information.
We have regular visits from a speech and language therapist and from the physiotherapy service, both vital for helping the children's development.
We run workshops for parents and teaching staff to equip them with the skills needed to ensure our children reach their potential and are fully included in the family, in schools and in the community.
All of this takes its toll, of course, and I took a two- year career break so I could give Downright Special the attention it deserves.
We currently have two vacancies for trustees, and as last week was National Trustees Week, this seems like a great time to shout about the work we do, and see if anybody would like to get involved, either to fundraise for us, or work with us as a trustee.
I can't promise you that it will be easy, but for job satisfaction, it's unbeatable.
For more details, visit or call 01482 420160.

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