The Dorset Children’s Foundation is on a quest to promote exclusivity, break down barriers and to celebrate differences. Where better to start than by teaching the youth of today for a more inclusive tomorrow.
Here at the DCF we believe that the children we support should be heard as well as seen. As a growing charity with a wealth of local knowledge and expertise we are fast becoming a very well-respected organisation that understands the needs of disabled children in Dorset. As such we are often asked to speak on the behalf of our families on topics such as – local parks and leisure facilities, housing needs, SEN provision, palliative care procedures.
We work closely with the local council, NHS and local schools to ensure that the needs of our children aren’t forgotten when it comes to making important decisions within our community.
What We’re Doing Now
Paddy’s health needs have changed so Gemma and Paddy are unable to deliver full workshops right now, however, there is still so much to do to change society’s perception and attitude towards people with disabilities. Through national, local and social media; pressure and focus groups and working with local councils and NHS Trusts, Gemma continues to raise awareness and help others by sharing Paddy’s story. Her current project will take her work into local hospitals, as we recognise that a stay in hospital can be quite upsetting for some children and this is the one place where children of all abilities and needs share the same wards. Gemma will be working with the NHS education teams, encouraging them to talk to all children in their care about disability, with the idea of providing a more rounded view and understanding of disability.
Gemma is offering to work with individual families who have children with disabilities and their siblings, who may benefit from a child friendly explanation of epilepsy, tube feeds, mobility equipment, and other relevant subjects. Having a brother or sister with medical needs can be unsettling for young children who often don’t have the opportunity to talk about it and won’t ask the questions that are on their mind for fear of upsetting anyone. Using fun props like plasma balls to explain seizures and ‘peg fed Ted’, Gemma can work with siblings to help them better understand what is going on around them.
Get in touch.
If you would like to arrange for Gemma to work with your family, please get in touch with her directly.
When I started working in schools, the first school I visited was the school that Patrick’s younger sister Daisy attended. When I got around to working with her class, I was really surprised that Daisy was asking as many questions about her brother as everyone else. I quickly realised that although Daisy lived with Patrick and saw daily all his equipment and was used to him have seizures, I had never really taken the time to explain everything to her in a way she could process and understand. I took for granted that she had a good understanding of everything, but she clearly didn’t. – Gemma
Having a disabled child can happen to anyone. I had no experience and no idea about the world of disability. I assumed that if you had disabilities the NHS/government would just provide. I gave annually to charity and got on with my quite mundane life, blissfully unaware of the massive shortfall in resources, equipment and facilities that people living with disabilities have to face.
Everything is a battle, and I am now a warrior fighting alongside the very best to bring equality and inclusion for everybody.
Paddy and Gemma came to visit our local scout group to teach the Beavers what it’s like living with a disability. Gemma was able to explain special needs to the children in such a creative way, keeping them engaged and learning throughout. The children looked beyond the disabilities and tough challenges that Paddy may have ahead, and looked at him as a child to play with and learn from. Having visits from children like Paddy and dedicated parents like Gemma enables the children to enrich their awareness of social diversity and inclusion.
Thank you so much to you both, for inspiring us all.
Alice at Somerford
Gemma and Paddy have paid a few visits to our Beaver Scout group over the last few years and the kids loved them! Kids always have questions about people like Paddy but they are often silenced by their parents out of embarrassment. Gemma encourages all questions and gives honest answers. It’s a wonderful opportunity for others to learn about Paddy’s way of life and also to appreciate that whilst he is different and has his own challenges, he is a lot like them in many ways.
Iain Hunter – Mudeford Beavers
Awesome Archie on Tour
Mum of Archie, Rebecca, attended one of Paddy’s Purpose workshops several years ago and was inspired to set up Awesome Archie on Tour with her 13 year old son Archie, explaining what it is like to live with autism. They are touring schools across Dorset promoting neurodiversity in the main-stream environment.
They have also written 3 amazing books that promote neurodiversity in a fun, visual and accessible format.
If you would like Awesome Archie to visit your school, or to learn more please contact Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org/