Friends of Shepherds Down School
The charity was founded to raise money to assist Shepherds Down School. We aim to support and enhance the learning experience of all 158 pupils at the school who all have various disabilities and/or life limiting conditions, such as autism, epilepsy and celebral palsy along with severe learning difficulties and physical disabilities.
Why we need help
We fundraise throughout the year to raise money to fund various projects including music and art therapy as well as capital projects - we have recently replace the adventure playground. We had planned a golf day, football event with dinner, Matt Le Tissier evening and our summer fair, which have all been cancelled. We are looking to raise money from the community to support our activities from September.
Coupled with out lack of fundraising our families have experienced hardship throughout this period as they are forced to work from home, home school for children with different needs and complete therapy such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Many of our children have been shielding due to their health or that of a family member which has increased anxiety.
Our parents have done such a wonderful job in extremely difficult circumstances, however, they cannot replace the job done by teachers and therapists in the school environment. We know that our children will be struggling with regression in terms of their abilities coupled with mental health worries and emotional regulation.
How will the money raised be used?
We intend to offer Emotional Literacy Through the Arts and the input of our Sensory Processing OT to all children who need the support from September. Neither of these services are provided for either via the school budget or NHS.
Emotional Literacy Through the Arts
Many of our children are non-verbal or are more successful in situations where they can express themselves through other means, such as art. Many also have significant difficulties with their Emotional Regulation. They find it hard to identify and express emotions within themselves and to understand those of others, which makes life confusing and unpredictable. During Lockdown many children have found the changes, the loss of schooling and the additional challenges within their families even harder to understand and manage and are therefore returning to school with a heightened need for emotional support. This therapy allows children to learn to express themselves and their feelings through various art mediums. The annual cost for this therapy is currently £10,000.
Many of our children have difficulties with sensory processing, which means they find it difficult to receive and respond to information that comes in through their senses. When the system does not function well, the result is agitation, lack of attention, anxiety, inability to ignore distraction and hypersensitivity. This has a significant impact on their learning if not addressed.
We receive input from a specialist OT in this field and the programmes put in place are often referred to as a "sensory diet". It can include regular exercise, bouncing on a trampoline, squeezing, wobble cushions, weighed jackets, etc. The cost of this input is £2,000 a year. We know given the prolonged period with little schooling for many of our children this will be a critical service from September.