In the summer of 2019, a lovely lady called Gayle Painter reached out to us and asked if we would consider donating a number of wheelchair ponchos, to be worn by children attending Castle School in Cambridge.
As a school which caters for over 180 children, aged 2-19, with complex disabilities and learning difficulties, Gayle explained that recent budget cuts from central government had hit special needs schools hard – including Castle School – as specialist disability equipment and provision is very costly. In her email to us, Gayle said:
“My 12-year-old autistic son, Scott, attends Castle special needs school in Cambridge. I am just a Mum at the school but I have taken on the role of trying to do a bit of fundraising where I can."
“Many of the children at the school come from very low income families (some of whom are dependent on the local food bank). We therefore need to provide a lot of the essentials, and one of these is some hooded waterproof ponchos for our wheelchair pupils so that they can access the Forest School lessons (which take place whatever the weather!) I wonder if you would be able to donate any to us, as they would be absolutely perfect?”
Two children wrapped up snugly in the donated wheelchair ponchos
After reading Gayle’s heartfelt words, especially about how thankful she is to the “selfless and incredible” staff at Castle School for making Scott feel right at home, we were delighted to donate the 30 ponchos needed for the outdoor Forest School lessons during autumn/winter.
Small school, big difference
Since Gayle contacted us, we have been keen to learn more about Castle School and just how much it has impacted the lives of her and Scott. When we asked Gayle about the differences she’s seen in Scott since moving from mainstream school to Castle School, her answer was truly moving.
“Scott's and our lives as parents have been transformed completely! He goes to school with a smile on his face every day and comes back laughing about funny things that have happened, relaying what him and his friends have been up to, talking about the lessons he's done and lunchtime clubs he goes to (swimming, bike club and social club)."
“For the first time he clearly feels like he fits in; he said it "feels like home" and he can just be himself without feeling any different to anyone else.”
We also got in touch with the Head Teacher of Castle School, Chris Baker, for his thoughts on why the school makes such a big difference to its pupils.
“I am passionate about creating a quality education for young people with additional needs and supporting families to get the best for their young people. Castle school is an amazing place and we are working hard to develop the facilities to create an environment that enables all our pupils to achieve all that they can and get them ready for life as adults in their local communities."
“I love the pupils that come to school. We have an eager and enthusiastic bunch who are keen to learn and enjoy coming to school. The staff are fantastic and all eager to help develop the school. Our parents are caring and keen to work with us. Cambridge is a vibrant and exciting place and we are working to develop our links with the University.”
We’d like to thank Gayle and Chris for sharing their thoughts with us and we sincerely hope our donation of wheelchair ponchos can help make a difference to the lives of the children attending Castle School.
All the best to Castle School in Cambridge!
Do you have a story to tell about how daily living aids have helped you? Let us know: email [email protected]