A team of volunteers from AIG’s Birmingham Service Centre spent the day gardening and helping out at Pears.
During the day, we were given a tour of the school by the Deputy Head, and to say it was an inspiring and humbling experience is an understatement. The school looks after both residential and non-residential children, all of whom have multiple disabilities as well as sight loss. They are looked after one to one, and depending on the nature of their disability some are looked after two or three to one.
The school aims to make sure that the children are prepared for life, and we were fortunate enough to be introduced to some of the children whilst in class.
One of the children particularly stood out for us – his name was Ferdie – he introduced himself to us, and greeted us all with a handshake – he asked us our names, and told us individually that we were beautiful, and also asked one or two of us if we were happy in life and whether we were born happy, or became happy.
It was so moving for a young child with multiple disabilities to be so confident and open to talk to us like he did, and I’ll always think of Ferdie now if I am having a bit of a down day myself.
All of the staff at the school had smiles on their faces – from the receptionists to the cleaners to the teachers – and you could see that they all take so much pride in their jobs.
There are so many things that able bodied people take for granted, and there were some simple tools within the school that really made us think about that, for example, there are ‘Environmental Objects of Reference’ boards in each room – this is so the teachers can ‘tell’ the children where they are going when they leave the room they’re in – for example if it’s the kitchen, that particular board has a fork on it.
We were also shown how a ‘switch’ can help people with sight difficulties make a choice or tell someone something – by using different switches you can ask someone for a drink, tell someone you want to go to bed, or tell someone you don’t feel well, etc.
I know I speak on behalf of all of us when I say it was an amazing experience being able to give something back to the community, and we look forward to doing whatever Pears have in store for us next time.
If this article has inspired you to learn more about the team at the RNIB Pears centre and the expert education and care they provide, visit our RNIB Pears centre page.