We DEMAND our 'Special Needs School' before its too late
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My name is Hayden Gregory. I have Down Syndrome and Uncontrollable Epilepsy which means I have severe seizures every day of my life since I was a baby which have caused me to have significant developmental delay. I attend St.Mary's Special School Drumcar,Co.Louth,Ireland.
Several years ago I inspired my Mammy to try and change Special Education in Ireland. My Mammy also wants to see children and adults with disabilities treated with respect and for the discrimination to stop .You see my friends and I at St.Mary's are a MINORITY in this country and because of that 'The Government of Ireland' forgot about us. New schools with Special needs units were been built in every town throughout Ireland, but these units were not for children like us who fall into the low moderate and severe and profound range.
To ensure I got the Education,Equality and Social Inclusion in my own town of Drogheda we started out on this long, long journey to hopefully reach a successful outcome.
After years of fighting and the help of some wonderful people the funding was eventually granted in 2015 for a new school. However, 2019-2021 is so far away for my friends and I to wait at St.Mary's. Some of my friends have sadly passed on and some are in pallative care.
A little about our current school:
The Built Enviroment
-The school building itself is simply no longer fit for purpose, the classrooms were never designed for children in the low moderate to severe and profound range. Not one class has the correct toilet facilities which are paramount for a great many of our pupils. As the school has grown with the needs of our pupils we have had to convert our school canteen into a classroom, not only did we eat here but it was one of the few occasions where we could socialise in a safe manner.
- As a school we have no room at all for storage of standers, hoists, wheelchairs etc they are simply out of necessity moved around the school and are certainly tripping hazards to say the least. We do not have a sensory room even though this has been recommended by every therapist who comes in to the school, there is no room for further development, also, existing toilets are all physically too small for my friends in wheelchairs or hoists to avail of them.
-Every pupil in St Mary's requires some form of multi disciplinary support. Each therapist (when available)should have their own room. Many times a therapist has had to meet parents in their own car outside the school, clearly this is totally unacceptable.
-There are huge concerns that the nature of the school would be leading to behavioural issues for children with ASD. We do not have a tranquil area or time out space or a playground that my friends and I must have.
We are the most VULNERABLE CHILDREN in Ireland whom , The Government of Ireland have NEGLECTED for centuries as we had no voice at all up until recently, but things are about to change for us.
Hayden's Vision for children and adults with disabilities:
-To develop a 'Centre of Excellance' and not just a school.
-We NEED and DESERVE a greenfield site which is large enough to accomodate a school and education centre for when we turn 18 years old . Instead the alternative is been split up from our friends and everything/way of life as we know.
-A respite centre with a sensory garden and a playground for us to enjoy in school and with our families on our days off school.
-Leisure facilities which could also be used by the community, swimming pool , therapy pool,PE hall etc.
-Multidisciplinary rooms on site as children currently have to sit in a car for therapy !
-To be part of a community, close to civilisation. INCLUSION & INTEGRATION into society ( not in the middle of nowhere which is currently where we are). Close to the hospital in Drogheda and accessible to the motorway ie. close to junction 10.
The above has NEVER been done in IRELAND before ,THE IRISH GOVERNMENT have an 'OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY'
THEY OWE it to MY FRIENDS AND I
MINISTER BRUTON step into my shoes for one day and live my life or that of my friends and you wont have to think twice about saying YES to this request. Our file sits in your department. My Mammy spoke with Brian O'Connell last month and still there is no decision on a site even though sites have been looked at with Louth County Council. There are very large sites that are suitable and are currently on the open market and included in our report.
E.g. 1- 39 acres at Kilineer, Drogheda,Co.Louth
E.g. 2- 48 acres Slane Rd,Drogheda,Co.Louth€950,000. This site is a fraction of the price the department of education paid for much smaller sites in recent years.
It would be a real shame to miss out on a wonderful greenfield site all because of BUREAUCRATIC red tape Minister Bruton.
Quite simply we have been ignored, this MUST stop. My friends and I at St.Mary's Special School need a new building and much sooner than the allocated timeframe, we are now at a crisis point.
I ask you Richard Bruton to treat this as a matter of URGENCY for my friends and I.
I ask you The Public to support my friends and I by signing and sharing our petition.
Please Help my Dream come through
Hayden Gregory xx
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