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Today We Made a Difference

As I ‘floated’ home on Wednesday I had in my head the very special words; ‘Today we made a difference’. As the school community will be aware, this academic year we have been raising money for the charity MERU. This fascinating company designs and makes life changing disability equipment for children and young adults. In particular they make ‘Bugzis’. These are small bright green child-friendly wheelchairs (that look like a bright green bug) which transform the lives of young children and for some, being placed in a motorised Bugzi is the very first time they can make an active choice to travel in any direction around a room in their whole tiny life.

If I am writing with passion it is because in the autumn term I went to the MERU factory accompanied the School Council; our children aged from 5 to 7 who are class representatives, voted onto the Council by their Class friends. They are chosen by their class who feel that the candidate could and will make a difference and, as usual, the pupils got it right. The School Council moved around the MERU factory with fascination. They tried out the simple, child-friendly controls of the Bugzi and they also watched with fascination as other toys cleverly adapted for children with disabilities were demonstrated. They returned to the school determined to raise enough money this year to buy at least one if not more amazing Bugzis for children in need.

During the year we have school plays and other performances which carry no charge to attend but have a retiring collection basket for our nominated annual charity. This has been a most effective way to raise money but this year the School Council wanted to do something a bit more. Guided and inspired by Mrs Russell, they contacted a parent who had expressed an interest in helping to raise additional funds and an idea began that came to fruition on Wednesday.

On Wednesday we held a special House Challenge Day. The theme of the day was ‘life without’ and the children explored and enjoyed a range of activities, carefully planned by the teachers, that enabled our pupils to complete a range of different challenges without using a key ingredient such as; their legs, their arms, their sight or their hearing. These challenges were enormous fun such as painting using a brush held by your toes or playing blindfold football in teams using a ball with a large bell in it but all the activities set the children thinking. As much fun as it was running up and down on the field in the sunshine following the sound of the bell ball, it did become frustrating after a while and the risk of knocking into others if enough care wasn’t taken slowed the activity down. The children began to realise just how valuable sight is, something we all take for granted.

In the ‘Wheelchair Volleyball’ experience the children had to sit on their bottoms and pat a balloon over a low net. This again was very exciting but as the competition heated children naturally moved to stand and again, as they realised that legs could not be used, the thinking process was evident. Just how lucky are we to be able to stand, walk and play.

In the afternoon, the whole school prepared to do a sponsored 1 mile run which we have done before for charities such as Comic Relief. The School Council ensured that this year it would have a twist. They invited our parent contact who works with adults with disabilities to bring some residents in wheelchairs to come and join in with our mile sponsored run. They were delighted to accept the invitation and so, on a sunny day in front of a cheering, flag-waving crowd, the whole school interspersed with wheelchairs set off to complete a 10 lap course for a very good cause. What an amazing experience. Meaningful fundraising for a wonderful cause with everyone at school feeling quietly inspired by the dedication and commitment of our tiny pupils and courageous guests.

On that Wednesday we made a difference, a very special difference and it’s not every day that you can say that.

Annie Thackray
Head Teacher