A timely reminder of why we do what we do!
2020 may only be one month in but 2019 ended on a high note when Christmas came early for one Wirral schoolgirl. Eight year old Anna, a pupil at Brookdale Primary School was that lucky little girl.
This story started back in October when Wirral’s SEND (Special Educational Needs/Disabilities) Local Offer team were invited to attend a Ways to Well-being event hosted by Neston High School. The Local Offer supports families with information about services for 0 to 25 year olds with special educational needs and/or disabilities. At the event we were introduced to Paralympian Anna Jackson who competed in the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney. Wheelchair Basketball is her sport and she is the Head coach at the Cheshire Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball club in Ellesmere Port.
Wirral’s SEND Local Offer is always looking for new and inclusive activities for our young people. Anna runs weekly wheelchair basketball sessions and was keen to offer her support, so we shared the information via the Local Offer website, Facebook and Twitter. Contact details were swapped.
Later that day we received an e mail from Julie Hudson, Manager of Medical and Physical needs. Julie had been working in Brookdale Primary and when talking to their SENCO (Special Needs co-ordinator) Miss Hubbard, they had identified a disability issue that was preventing a pupil from taking part in activities. Julie’s e mail asked whether the Local Offer had any contacts who might be able to help get a wheelchair into Brookdale to support the pupil get around school. The pupil was also called Anna and from that point on became known as ‘little Anna’.
Everything happened very quickly and within a fortnight ‘big Anna’ Jackson had replied to our plea and delivered a chair for Anna to use in school. The impact was profound and instantaneous. Not only could little Anna join in activities like the Daily Mile, a school based intervention to ensure all pupils get 15 minutes of exercise, but her classmates gained a greater insight and understanding of the challenges disabled children face.
Big Anna was so thrilled to help she decided to try and source an improved chair, one that could be used at home too. She got in touch with her contacts and ‘Birmingham Wheelchair Basketball’ stepped up and donated a junior version of the identical wheelchair Anna uses. Lightweight and extremely compact it was a dream chair and we were overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity shown.
On 17th December Anna Jackson, Julie Hudson and the Local Offer Lead, Sally Tittle surprised little Anna, her Mum, SENCO Miss Hubbard and Headteacher Mr Brown when they presented the very snazzy wheelchair to a somewhat overwhelmed little girl. Complete with a sparkly red bow the chair looked amazing and there were few dry eyes in the room.
Little Anna and her Mum have passed on their gratitude for the wonderful example of joined up working which has already made life so much easier both in school and at home.
The SEND Code of Practice states that “The Local Offer should not simply be a directory of existing services. Its success depends as much upon full engagement with children, young people and their parents”.
The Local Offer was the thread running through this success story and is delighted to have been able to make a lasting difference to the life of little Anna and her family. #makingadifference