Childvision | Meet Our Neighbour
Earlier in March Peadar was invited along to ChildVision to chat to young people about sustainability as part of the campus Green Awareness Week. Peadar was blown away by the work being done by both the students/service users, and staff. So, I popped down a couple of weeks later to meet everybody too! Read about what ChildVison do and what I got up to on my tour of the campus.
What is ChildVison and what do they do?
- ChildVision is the only place in Ireland totally dedicated to the education, residential and therapeutic needs of visually impaired children and young people, some of whom have multiple disabilities. ChildVision also provides a nationwide resource centre for parents of blind, visually impaired, deaf blind and sensory impaired students who are attending mainstream school or preschool.
- They look after children from all over Ireland ranging in age from birth to 23 years of age.
- The team includes speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, nurses, braille specialists, social care workers, pet and equine therapists as well as a team of maintenance and household staff who work across campus
The first people I saw on my visit to Childvision were a small group of chatty teenagers standing together in the sun outside reception. As I was entering the building two adults lead the group somewhere and all of the young people, basking in the joy of rare sunshine, filled the place with an eruption of laughter. Inside at reception laughter could be heard from the other side of the building too with lots of smaller children playing outside. I was there to meet Emma, who was kind enough to spare her time to give me a tour of the brightly decorated campus.
The first young person I was introduced to was Darragh whom I heard was very hands on during Green Awareness Week, so it was no surprise then to find him diligently sorting the recycling bins in the dining area. Darragh showed me how they have three bins separated for general waste, green waste, and brown waste. They also had a collection box for the TerraCycle Crisp Packet Recycling Scheme which they fill and drop in to us in the shop. They also promote the use of reusable cups in the cafe area. It was great to see the young people being so involved at each level of the process.
Every young person I met had a task that centered around their own interests. I met Jordan on my tour of the Braille building (where they literally make braille books – but more on that later)! Jordan introduced himself from across the room where he was busy typing away on a computer using a braille keyboard where, after either listening to audio books or reading braille, he types up reviews of each book. Such is his dedication to writing, Jordan entered the Onkyo World Braille Essay Contest and won the Excellent Works Prize in the junior category, making him an award-winning writer. Kudos to you, Jordan, what an honour!
Back to the Braille building…where every braille book in Ireland is made! Any person in the country who is a registered blind can avail of braille books for free, whether they’re books for school or for recreation. If the book you want to read isn’t available in braille, they will make it for you in this building and send it to you. The very knowledgeable Catherine was on hand to show me how the process works, from the machines used to imprint braille, to the machines for binding, everything is done on campus. They have a machine for shredding so that the books can be recycled once they have been worn down or damaged…and they even have a digital printer with which they make some pretty useful things like braille clocks to help people learn to read the time.
The library is an especially magical place for all ages, with a sensory reading and play area at the back complete with artificial grass and a sensory tent. It’s right next to Pet’s Corner and with the window open you can hear the sound of birds, including hens, geese and parrots!
I got a chance to pay Pet’s Corner a visit when we headed out to the garden area which is just outside the main cafe. Both the cafe and the garden area are open to the public with no admission fee. The garden is complete with a fairy garden, a little pond, a charity shop, and a garden centre which offers a refill service where you can bring your own containers. Peter heads up the garden centre and is working with the young people on a horticulture project, where they will grow their own food to produce and sell. The work here is centered around guiding and supporting the students to be independent in doing day to day things that we all take for granted, from being able to eat or walk unaided or making their own breakfast, to the challenge of obtaining and keeping a job. There are also supports for young people who have a talent for music, sports, and the arts. The equine programme provides therapy, as well as teaching work skills and ethics. Horse riding lessons are also available to the public for a fee but spaces are limited. Who knows, maybe I’ll overcome my fear and give it a go.
ChildVision is definitely a place I’ll be returning to. We feel very lucky to have such an inclusive amenity in our community, one which extends its warm welcome to the public and inspires the young people who use its services to be the best that they can be. I’m already filling a bag of clothes to bring to their charity shop so I can do a little sustainable shopping myself. And I’m sure I’ll be popping into the cafe with my reusable cup for a stroll around Pets Corner. Hopefully I’ll chat to some of my new pals while I’m there, and maybe you can meet some of them in the shop when they come to do some work experience with us!
Have a look at ChildVision’s website to read about all of the amazing work they’ve been doing on this site which has been dedicated to the care of the blind in Ireland for the last 150+ years! And check out their event page to see the great free amenities available to the public. If you do avail of these facilities and would like to donate you can become a monthly donor or make a once off donation here. You’ll be helping to make the world a less scary place for children who cannot see, who cannot move very well and who may also have complex and serious medical conditions. You are also helping to give children the right teachers and other specialists to help them learn and grow with confidence.
All photos: JR Doyle