Living with Cerebral Palsy 🍋🍋

Thursday, 11 July 2019

The End of an Era

In a few short days,  Elin is leaving the class she has resided in for over eight years and in September, is moving to secondary school.
Someone once told me they thought we were really ‘lucky’ that Elin had a school she could go to. That there were schools ‘around’ that catered for children with her needs.
Elin and her friends have a right to expect an education (a good education) just as much as any other child. Its not luck, it’s a legal requirement.
What IS lucky is that school happened to be Ysgol Y Canol. That, to me, was lucky. There was no choice for us back in 2011 when we were looking at schools. There was only one in the area which would come close to meeting her needs. I found this really difficult, because it was obviously not the school I had planned on her going to. She was supposed to be going to the school in our village, which we had naturally just always assumed our child would attend, which I had attended, which my Mum still worked at. It was all going to be so perfect, Mum would be there after school for her, or if she needed someone, and we could even take her down there on her bike when she was old enough.  Realising Elin was not going to attend this school after all was like a yet another punch to the gut, so before Elin even started school there were huge emotional connotations for me surrounding the subject.
Despite our teaching backgrounds, neither of us had any real experience with ALN schools/units. When we went to look around Ysgol Y Canol we didn’t know what to expect, I was really nervous.  I was acutely aware if we weren’t sure about it that we had very few other options, which added extra pressure to the situation.
However, regular blog readers will know how this story turned out.  From the moment we got through the door it was pretty clear this was not a school, it was a home.
Just as a home is not a home because of what it looks like, but instead who is inside it, so a school cannot in the end be measured by its facilities, but by the staff.  The staff at Elin’s school are her family and we are devastated to say goodbye. “As many hands build a house, so many hearts make a school”.  This is so true for Y Canol. The love there was palpable.
From that day when we arrived full of trepidation about handing over Elin to strangers for the first time ever, to her last emotional couple of weeks, Ysgol Y Canol has provided us with nothing but excellence, believing that nothing but excellence was what Elin and her friends were owed and deserved. When you have a child with complex needs, a good school can be life changing.  To the Y Canol staff-  you changed Elin’s life. You gave her something we couldn’t, you gave her independence, you gave her a meaningful experience each and every day outside of the family home. You taught her so much, showed us what she could achieve and, early on, how her life could be. Right from our first visit, we could see there was no room for sorrow in this school. Only celebration. Nobody commiserated us, nobody patronised Elin. We were made to feel like we belonged there. For the first tile in Elin’s life our family experience was a normal one. You gave us as parents the most incredible understanding, support and care over the years too. She was two when she came to you, we were still traumatised from our lives being turned upside down following her birth. You helped to heal our family, you helped to mend two broken hearts. School quickly became something I could cross off my list of things to feel sad about.  It was a big one to be able to cross off.  I can never fully express my gratitude for this. School has been the constant anchor in the years of stormy seas we have weathered together as a family. You grounded us.
Now Elin is leaving for secondary school and we can hardly believe it. She is so ready for new challenges and has a fab secondary school to go to. We are excited about the new chapter in her life. But Elin leaves a tiny piece of herself behind at Y Canol- a piece of her heart, and we leave a piece of ours too.
We will miss you beyond measure and we will never, ever forget what you did for Elin and for us.
Thank you all, for everything.
Ruth xx
Blogger Template Created by pipdig