For those who work with children with special educational needs and/or disabilities, 2016 has been a year of highs and lows, some of which have featured here. It’s therefore heart-warming to mark the start of the festive break and the end of the year with a truly inspirational story.
In Killard House Special School, Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, staff and children staged a Christmas concert featuring the school choir and its soloist Kaylee Rodgers. Kaylee is 10 years old and has a diagnosis of autism and ADHD. Extremely shy when she started at the school she has grown in confidence through performing in front of her classmates and the wider school community. Thankfully someone was on hand to video this very special concert.
When Kaylee was unable to repeat the live performance at a carol service in her local church the video was uploaded to YouTube and Facebook, where the film began to attract attention. As the number of views grew, clips of it were shown on TV and Kaylee became the focus of newspaper articles. If you haven’t seen it already you can watch the full five-minute version here.
Maybe it was choice of song, the late Leonard Cohen’s Halleluja, or Kaylee’s rendition of it, which is both beautiful and assured. Or maybe it’s that it’s a timely reminder that every one of us is a complex mix of ability and inability and that in the right environment and with the right support it is our strengths that will shine through.
Either way we can think of no better way of ending our coverage for 2016 and wishing everyone in the special needs community – children, parents, teachers, therapists and support staff – a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. We are grateful for all you do.
And remember, if you have an equally compelling story to tell in 2017 be sure to get in touch.