When you change the way you look at things, things change”. So says the notice board in Saplings. Another notice said that education is what is left over when what you have learned is forgotten. Many things in life might be forgotten but the experience in Saplings tonight will always remain with me.
We were there at the invitation of the school for autism to see how the money raised by the annual Tour-de-Foothills cycle was being spent. The bubbling energy of the place has got to be witnessed to be understood. It was amazing how much can be done with such little resources and with such cheerfulness. We were told that there is a waiting list of applicants, a measure of the schools success. We were introduced to young teachers trained in verbal and non verbal techniques enthusiastically committed to their pupils, and eager to explain to us what the school was all about. As we were shown around great pride was taken in the sensory room provided from previous TDF funding, a climbing wall is on its way, its benefits for the mental and physical development of the child well understood, and eagerly awaited. But there is much more to be done.
The Tour-de-Foothills is an uphill climb but nothing compared to that experienced by the staff of Saplings as they courageously strive, without proper government funding, to provide emotional stability, basic social and educational skills to their students, and perhaps a meaning to their lives, and a reason for living. “When you change the way you look at things, things change”, or as Saplings say on their website “A young sapling properly nurtured can grow into a strong tree”.
Edel Shaw shows us their next project
And not to forget Lilly Whelan’s cakes !!