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Foyle College


Mayor of Derry and students from Foyle College support children with cerebral palsy at Buddy Bear Trust School, Dungannon


Mayor of Derry Councillor Kevin Campbell recently joined Foyle College Principal, Mr Jim Allen and form teacher Mrs Zara Colhoun and her fund raising students in helping children with cerebral palsy attending the only Conductive Education School in Ireland.

The Mayor presented a cheque to Brendan McConville, Chairman of the Buddy Bear Trust on behalf of the Foyle College students who raised £340 to help this unique special school which uses the teaching principles of the famous International Peto Institute in Budapest to educate children severely disabled by cerebral palsy.

The Foyle College students under the guidance of their form teacher Mrs Zara Calhoun selected the Buddy Bear Trust which has been helping children from N Ireland and the Republic for 25 years to receive life changing Conductive Education.

Mayor Councillor Campbell was shown a draft promotional video by Mrs Calhoun’s students made by veteran film Maker Barbara McCann about the work of the Trust and the efforts the children have to make to learn to walk or to simply hold a spoon.  The young students identified with the children and agreed to help them and to inform more parents that there is a Conductive Education school in N Ireland. One boy asked why children should have to leave home to go to Budapest for help when there is a Peto type school in Dungannon.

Mr Patrick Allen, Principal agreed to make arrangements for the video to be shown at School Assembly to help promote and support the work of the Trust and the children with cerebral palsy.

The Mayor praised the students for their generosity and for their determination to help children who clearly needed help to do some of the things we all take for grantedHe said that the students were a credit to their families and to the Foyle College and an example to others.

“I hope other schools and colleges and firms and clubs will give their support to the children suffering from cerebral palsy and help the Buddy Bear Trust raise funds to secure the services of another specialist Conductor to help children at home.” said the Mayor.

Brendan McConville, a retired Education Officer and former VP of a special School said “We were delighted that the Mayor took time out of his busy schedule to endorse this campaign and meet with students and of course Buddy Bear.  During his visit he signed the Triangle of Hope photograph, which was used to launch this campaign 25 years ago.” 

TheTriangle of HOPE  photograph has been signed by Dr Paisley, John Hume, John Taylor, the leaders of the main Churches, First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, David Cameron Prime Minister and the late Holy Father John Paul 11.  We also hope that the Mayor will join the Lord Mayor of Belfast and others on our promotional video.

Mr McConville continued, “We need funds. The Trust has managed for 20 years the only Conductive Education specialist school in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, for young children from all parts of NI who suffer from cerebral palsy and other motor disorders.  We know that early intervention and Conductive Education can make a lifetime of difference to a child and a family.  We have visible proof that it works for some children but early intervention is essential.  We need to help more children.  We are not in competition with Special Schools or Physiotherapists. We are a much needed extra resource.”

In 2006 the Assembly resolved that the school should be funded and supported but the parents are still waiting on the funds being made available.  We have to rely on donations from the public, clubs and schools while we campaign for Government help.

Our special children deserve a better future and need the help of the whole community if they are to realise their potential. The character of a person and a community is judged not on wealth or power but on how the most vulnerable and less able are supported.

Brendan McConville said: “Our children come from all sections of our community. Cerebral palsy can strike at a child in any home regardless of religious, political or social background, with statistics showing that one child in 400 suffers from the condition.”

Parents are welcome to make an appointment to visit the school or to phone the Principal 02887752025

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