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Testimonials

Meet Amelia’s Mother, Caroline

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When did Amelia start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
Amelia started Buddy Bear School at around 6 months old and was, at that time, tube fed for all meals

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Amelia?
She has become so much stronger in all ways and is now managing 3 spoon feeds a day.

What does Amelia enjoy most about the School?
Buddy Bear has helped me just as much as Amelia, we love to come on Wednesdays and Thursdays and get excited about the goals we achieve and what’s ahead.

She enjoys walking with Rebeka and myself and only needs a little assistance, this approach has never been tried with Amelia and now she feels so empowered.

How has the school helped you?
It empowers me and shows me ways to forward Amelia’s development, it almost feels like Buddy Bear has taken me out of a big hole was stuck in.  We have met loads of new people and Amelia has even gained new friends.

Amelia has recently gained a baby sister in the last year and it has not been an issue to the staff at Buddy Bear. Eloise gets to join in all the activities and gets to play with her big sister.

Buddy Bear Trust is part of our life and it is a shame Amelia won’t be able to attend here all the time, and we have to settle two days a week, think of the possibilities that could be achieved if she got to come here every day.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
Early intervention is key and that has always been emphasised at Buddy Bear. Conductive Education has proven to work for Amelia and I would encourage other parents to find out more about it.

Meet Sterling's Mother, Joanne

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Tell us a little bit about Sterling

After 2 miscarriages and my 7th round of IVF, I became pregnant with twins, amazing. A double bonus of 2 – a boy and a girl.

After a C-section Stirling was born first. Stirling was floppy and less responsive than Faye but we had no real concerns. Stirling passed the Paed’s test. However, I had concerns as he was moving unusually and twisting his arms inwards.

Results of an MRI scan showed he had significant white matter damage and frontal lobe signal changes. We were told they were unsure what the diagnosis was but potentially could be Cerebral Palsy.

Devastated, emotional and confused we left the paediatrician and came home to the unknown and looked after our babies.

Stirling got support for his eyes and diagnosed with CVI. RNIB, Angel Eyes and Guide Dogs all have groups and support networks however there was nothing for CP, we had no guidance.

When did Sterling start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
20 months without CP support is really hard but eventually we were recommended the Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School for CP support.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Sterling?
Stirling is supported with his mobility and delayed learning development.

We are currently working on his understanding and completing tasks which is delayed and much needed as I have no support elsewhere.

What does Sterling enjoy most about the School?
It has given him the confidence to start walking on his own which is amazing.

How has the school helped you?
Now we have help and support a huge relief and benefit for all the family.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
To my relief Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School has been a lifeline to help with CP mobility and learning development. Find out more about the school and get in touch.

Meet Penny’s Mother, Shauna

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Tell us a little bit about Penny

Penny has cortical visual impairment and four bleeds on the brain.

When did Penny start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
Penny began Buddy Bear at just 9 months old.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Penny?
She has made fantastic progress since starting at the school and I am delighted with her continuing progress.

How has the school helped you?
I don’t know of any other place in Northern Ireland offering the same help. I believe that full attendance for her nursery placement in this school will bring exciting new skills and help further her independence even more.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
Conductive Education clearly works as it has an overall impact improving a child’s quality of life in every shape or form and importantly, working on becoming as independent as possible. Buddy Bear has been a great eye opener for me and would encourage anyone to get in touch.

Meet Pauric’s Mother, Jenine

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Tell us a little bit about Pauric

Pauric was born over 12 weeks early and, with complications in those early days, he suffered a severe double brain haemorrhage. We were later informed he would have Cerebral Palsy as a result. As a parent this was devastating as all you want for your child is the best, the best health, the best opportunities, the best of everything. I was making it my mission to find those for our son, despite the bleak future the doctor’s diagnosis for Pauric.

When did Pauric start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
We took Pauric when he was 11 months old and the hope they provided us with was a breath of fresh air.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Pauric?
When he first started he could not roll or sit and now he is doing both and we are so very grateful and hopefully as his time continues at The Buddy Bear Trust his progress will too.

What does Pauric enjoy most about the School?
The school is so colourful and friendly and the love and commitment they show to Pauric and all the children is amazing.

How has the school helped you?
Our time at the school so far has expanded our thinking of the way we play together to challenge Pauric and encourage him to do more and this has really helped his development.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
When I was searching Cerebral Palsy and the services available we discovered The Buddy Bear Trust and am so happy we did.

Meet Oscar's Mother, Sophia

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Tell us a little bit about Oscar
Within a year and a half of his birth, Oscar was diagnosed with brain damage, epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy and global development delay. On our first meeting with Oscar’s neurologist we were told Oscar would probably be in a wheelchair and would only reach the mental age of a seven year old. This was devastating for us as parents.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Oscar?
Oscar is now walking and making strides to walking independently. He has a broad range of understanding and words and he is learning how to request.

What does Oscar enjoy most about the School?
Oscar is an inquisitive and very very loving little boy with an absolute love of fun and social company and he loves going to school and progressing every day.

How has the school helped you?
Buddy Bear has supported us 100% without asking for anything other than fundraising (when we are able) in return. The hope and support which have been given as Oscar’s parent, a five year old boy with Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy and global developmental delay is immeasurable.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
At a time when we were at our lowest Conductive Education and their focus on what Oscar could do, not on what he could not or might not do, lifted us up and gave us the encouragement and guidance we needed to help our son progress. This school relies solely on fundraising to survive, we have done some fundraising and intend to do more, but our abilities are limited.

Meet Maeve's Mother, Jennifer

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Tell us a little bit about Maeve
After Maeve was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy I had no idea what it was and how it was going to affect Maeve.

When did Maeve start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
One night I was on the Internet looking at information about Cerebral Palsy and noticed Buddy Bear School. I went on to the website and found a telephone number. The next day I phoned and spoke to Brendan McConville and Ildiko Veres and they invited me to the school with Maeve.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Maeve?
As soon as we arrived I was welcomed in and as Ildiko was assessing Maeve. Brendan showed me around and I learned more about the school and Conductive Education. Ildiko said to me that she would be able to help Maeve and for the first time I got positive feedback instead of doctors saying we just don’t know and not to expect much. I felt a weight lifting off my shoulders and the whole experience made me realize that there was hope for Maeve and that wasn’t alone.

What does Maeve enjoy most about the School?
In the early days in Buddy Bear Maeve was still getting used to her surroundings. Her Conductor used things that Maeve liked to play with to help motivate her. Maeve loves the doll’s house so she would be encouraged to roll to it. Brendan arranged to have a dolls house built for Maeve to use at home so this method of motivation could be followed up at home.

I’m currently appealing the decision of the Education Authority to place Maeve in mainstream education. I am waiting on the Special Needs Education Tribunal to inform me of a date for tribunal. It’s a very worrying time for all my family as we have to get a Solicitor.

How has the school helped you?
The relationship between her Conductor, Agi and myself is very important and it gives me the confidence to follow up her programme at home. I’m involved in all aspects of Maeve’s school life and stay in the school while she is in class. As Maeve has epilepsy and has taken seizures I’m always there if she needs rescue medication which is very reassuring for me.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
Contact the school – 5 years later I’m so glad I made that telephone call. Maeve has made amazing progress and will continue to the future is bright for Maeve thanks to Conductive Education and the Buddy Bear Trust School.

Meet Harry’s Mother, Judith

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Tell us a little bit about Harry
Harry has mild hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy, meaning he has limited mobility and increased muscle tone on the right side of his body.

When did Sterling start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
Harry and I are new faces to the Buddy Bear Trust School – Harry is 15 months old now.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Sterling?
We have completed 4 sessions so far at Buddy Bear and our conductor is Rebeka.

What does Harry enjoy most about the School?
From the start of each session Rebeka has Harry’s full attention and her method of teaching is second to none; mixing both exercise and play into one, ensuring that Harry gets the best out of each class.

How has the school helped you?
In my opinion the team at the school are worth their weight in gold and if the progress that Harry has made so far in the short time that we have been there is anything so go by then we are extremely excited and hopeful that he may gain full mobility someday, with their help.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
It is evident that Brendan, Ildiko, Rebeka and the rest of the team at Buddy Bear are so passionate about the work carried out at the school and the best for each pupil is their top priority. My biggest regret to date is not knowing about the school before now, can’t sing their praises enough.

Meet Fionnoula’s Mother, Bernadette

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Tell us a little bit about Fionnoula
Fionnoula received her diagnoses of Cerebral Palsy in 2017.

When did Fionnoula start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
She started Buddy Bear in April 2017.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Fionnoula?
Her conductor, Rebeka, pushes Fionnoula to work hard, making all of the exercises fun and enjoyable, praising Fionnoula and encouraging her to keep trying and uses lots of different methods to work with her so that Fionnoula gets the most from her sessions.

What does Fionnoula enjoy most about the School?
Fionnoula has developed a brilliant relationship with Rebeka and is always extremely happy to see her. Buddy Bear is extra therapy for Fionnoula, the weekly sessions here and with her physio ensures that she is constantly building on her strengths and learning new skills that help her now and will also help her in her future.

How has the school helped you?
I am shown how to work with Fionnoula in the classroom setting so she can continue with it in the home environment. In our opinion the staff at the school are doing an incredible job.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
I would encourage anyone to get in touch with the school and find out how it can help you.

Meet Daniel's Mother, Lisa

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Tell us a little bit about Daniel
Daniel had a very difficult birth and was born unresponsive, he was deprived of oxygen and had to be resuscitated. He spent 6 weeks in neonatal intensive care unit and on discharge we were advised to ‘just wait and see’ what the outcome would be.

We weren’t prepared to do that and after Cerebral Palsy was mentioned to us by our consultant we began researching ways to help our baby reach his full potential.

When did Daniel start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?When Daniel was 10 months old we visited the school and were blown away by their approach and ethos of seeing every child as an individual, focusing on what they CAN do rather than their limitations. The drive they have to help each child reach their full potential is something to be admired.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Daniel?
We were amazed when we discovered Buddy Bear through recommendations on Cerebral Palsy NI Facebook page. The service had never been mentioned to us at any appointments or by any health care professional.

We have been attending now twice a week for 5 months and the progress Daniel has made is remarkable. We have seen a huge improvement not only in Daniels strength and abilities but in his determination and motivation to learn which has been greatly encouraged by the wonderful conductors mainly Orsi.

At 10 months old Daniel could sit unaided for short periods of time, his tone and core strength was very low and he tired easily. In the space of 5 short months Daniel is like a different child.

What does Daniel enjoy most about the School?
There are no limits to length of time he can sit for now, he loves standing and walking with assistance, he can pull to stand and cruise along furniture. His biggest achievement is learning to crawl, something we never thought would happen given Daniels low tone and poor core strength. There is no doubt in my mind that these achievements are down to the hard work of buddy bear.

How has the school helped you?
The school has been a breath of fresh air for us and has given us a lot of hope for the future. It is essential that this school is recognised for the fantastic work they do and investment in its future and the future of the children is vital.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
What sets Buddy Bear apart from NHS services is that it offers much more than just therapy. It has an all-encompassing approach in order to teach the children the skills they will need to succeed in life. It not only looks after the children but it takes care of the parents too. It provides support and information as to what help and services are available to ensure our children receive the same basic rights as every other child.

Meet Clara's Mother, Chloe

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Tell us a little bit about Clara
My little girl Clara Belle was born in March 2017, 13 days overdue. She was taken to neonatal after her birth and she started to take seizures and her body was shutting down and was turning blue. She was put on a ventilator and the doctors didn’t have much hope for her. She was baptised the night she was born.

An MRI scan revealed Clara had severe brain damage and they told us she was never going to walk, talk, see or hear because her brain was so badly damaged. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at 9 months old and also has epilepsy, microcephaly and dystonia. She also had craniosynostosis which means her skull boned have fused over too early.

When did Clara start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
My 22 month old daughter Clara Belle first started Buddy Bears when she was less than a year old. We have been attending the school now almost a year with her.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Clara?
Before Clara attended Buddy Bear she wasn’t doing much her hands were completely locked in a tight fist and very stiff all day everyday she wouldn’t have opened them. Her muscles have become a lot looser since Rebeka started to work with Clara and show me how to stretch her every day when she isn’t at school. There is also a huge change in Clara’s tone as Clara also has been diagnosed with dystonia. Her head control has come on amazing as she didn’t have much head control before attending also and would have tired out very quickly and her head would have dropped in a matter of seconds. Her trunk has also got stronger. I honestly believe that someday she will be able to sit on her own.

She also has the pattern to be able to take steps with help. This is an amazing achievement for Clara as we were told there was no hope Clara would ever be able to do that, with the help of Buddy Bear this is also been proven she can. She is a very determined little girl with a lot of potential.

What does Clara enjoy most about the School?
Clara enjoys coming to Buddy Bear and recognises where she is going now coming in the doors. They have the utmost time for her and have the best way of working with her through music and play. She loves being sung to and she is a very social little girl full of joy, laughter and smiles.

How has the school helped you?
From the minute we stepped into the school for assessment we were made feel more than welcome as parents and Clara was more than loved the first day she arrived there! They are like a huge family to us, we would be lost without them. We travel from Derry every week to Buddy Bear in Dungannon and it is worth every minute of the journey. It is absolutely heart-warming to be a part of Buddy Bear and to see how amazing each and every member of Buddy Bear works for our children and the amount of time and effort they put into every session.

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
I can honestly not put into enough words what my experience with Buddy Bears Trust is.

Meet Cara's Mother, Sharon

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Tell us a little bit about Cara
Apart from community physiotherapy, and OT once a week and speech therapy every few months, there was nothing else available for young children with special needs like Cara, so Buddy Bear School was a godsend to help with early intervention. Cara is now 6, and also attends Mitchell House School in Belfast. She is currently in Primary 2.

Whilst Mitchell House School is a fantastic school and I am happy with Cara’ s placement there, I feel that it doesn’t fully meet her needs. This is not a criticism of Mitchell House, as it is my opinion that none of the grant-aided special schools fully meet the majority of children’s needs. This is also not a criticism of any of the teachers, staff or medical professionals working in the schools, but rather a result of austerity and the resulting lack of resources available.

I feel that the system is failing my daughter, especially since she is severely physically affected and has complex needs.

Cara receives regular physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy in Mitchell House School, however this is not enough, and so am expected to do most of the therapy and physical education at home. Whilst I am happy to try my best as I have given up work in order to care for Cara and help her to achieve her full potential, Cara is less likely to cooperate with me as I am her mother, just like most children. This is very frustrating, especially where I see her potential and willingness to work with the professionals.

I have been researching Cerebral Palsy and various treatments, education etc. since Cara’s diagnosis in order to become well informed, and decide what methods were tried and tested, available to Cara, and in her best interests, within reason. Obviously I realise that there is no cure for Cerebral Palsy currently, nor am I desperate to go to any lengths to ‘fix’ Cara. I recognise that she is a child first and foremost, and that she needs to have fun and enjoy life. However, I have seen the benefits of Cara receiving Conductive Education in conjunction with the education and therapy she receives in Mitchell House School. She has continued to make great progress. She has so much fun attending both schools. I had agreed an interim arrangement between Mitchell House School and Buddy Bear School that Cara would attend Mitchell House School full time, but would leave one hour early twice a week to attend two hours of Conductive Education at Buddy Bear school. This has been in operation since September 2016, and has been working really well. I went to a special needs tribunal to try and get this formalised in Cara’s statement of special educational needs, however even though the EA agreed a separate written agreement on this, they wouldn’t name Buddy Bear School in the statement as they would then have to pay fees and travel expenses.

They are like a big family and help both parents and children. They go above and beyond to help. They have a can-do attitude, whereas I feel the Health Service are more likely to focus on what the child can’t do, or how severely affected they are and thus sort of write them off, even at a young age. I don’t agree with this, as there are a good 18 years in which to grow and develop into an adult, so why stop trying.

I feel that continuing to avail of Conductive Education on a part time basis is in Cara’s best interests, and it is my wish that she does so. All children should have the opportunity to take advantage of everything that is available.

When did Cara start Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School?
My daughter Cara has been attending Buddy Bear School on a part time basis since January 2014 when she was 1 year old. I stumbled upon Buddy Bear School by chance, as it is an independent school and nobody had informed us that this method was available in Northern Ireland. It is the only school in Northern Ireland that offers Conductive Education for children with Cerebral Palsy. There are many schools like this in England, USA, Australia and worldwide. The schools in England are government funded and work in conjunction with state schools and the NHS. I don’t see why this can’t be the case in Northern Ireland.

What has the team at Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School done for Cara?
Cara continues to make progress. She can now roll, and sit for a short periods herself. Her speech continues to develop, as does her walking with a frame and use of her helping hand. Buddy Bear have been so welcoming from the start.

Oscar’s mother, Sophia

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
 
“At a time when we were at our lowest Conductive Education and their focus on what Oscar could do, not on what he could not or might not do, lifted us up and gave us the encouragement and guidance we needed to help our son progress.”

View all testimonials here.

Amelia’s mother, Caroline

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?
 
“Early intervention is key and that has always been emphasised at Buddy Bear. Conductive Education has proven to work for Amelia and I would encourage other parents to find out more about it.”

View all testimonials here.

Sterling’s mother, Joanne

What advice would you give to parents in a similar situation to you?

“To my relief Buddy Bear Trust Conductive Education School has been a lifeline to help with CP mobility and learning development. Find out more about the school and get in touch.”

View all testimonials here.

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Buddy Bear Trust, Killyman Road Dungannon, Northern Ireland BT71 6DE