New autism unit at Bal­lymitty NS

Wexford People - - NEWS - By BREN­DAN KEANE

BAL­LYMITTY Na­tional School of­fi­cially opened its new autism unit, ‘An Choill Bheag’ in a cer­e­mony be­fore a gath­er­ing of par­ents and staff.

Prin­ci­pal, Au­drey McCarthy, wel­comed the vis­i­tors to the school and a warm word of wel­come was ex­tended to the school’s five new pupils who have cre­ated their own bit of his­tory as the first chil­dren to en­ter the unit.

In her ad­dress Ms McCarthy men­tioned that of­fi­cial open­ings are usu­ally re­served for new build­ings, how­ever, the staff in Bal­lymitty school felt it was ap­pro­pri­ate to wel­come the in­au­gu­ral class of An Choill Bheag.

The name was cho­sen by the staff and means ‘the lit­tle for­est’.

It was high­lighted on the day that many par­ents, com­mu­nity mem­bers, and friends of the school made kind do­na­tions to help with the set up and new teacher, Ms Bríd Casey, thanked ev­ery­one who worked hard at en­sur­ing the unit was ready in time for Septem­ber 1.

Ms McCarthy thanked Ms Casey and the two new Spe­cial Needs As­sis­tants (SNAs) Chris­tine Casey and Síona Nolan for their fan­tas­tic work with the pupils to-date.

She also thanked the staff for mak­ing the school an autism friendly place.

Autism Aware­ness Week was held in Septem­ber and those in at­ten­dance were in­formed that the school is mak­ing small changes to de­velop aware­ness and en­hance sup­port for the sen­sory needs of the pupils.

Ms McCarthy said the school plans to open an­other unit in the fu­ture if the need arises.

The Chair­per­son of the Board of Man­age­ment, Fr Mar­tin Pen­der, thanked ev­ery­one who sup­ported the new ven­ture which he said will be an in­valu­able ad­di­tion to the school.

High­light­ing how times are chang­ing in a pos­i­tive way Fr Pen­der em­pha­sised that many years ago there were very few, if any, sup­ports for chil­dren with autism.

Maireád French, who was a teacher and Prin­ci­pal in Bal­lymitty NS for many years, also spoke at the cer­e­mony and dis­cussed how fund­ing for such projects can be slow to se­cure from the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

She also un­der­lined the im­por­tance of the unit and how it will pro­vide a pos­i­tive im­pact on the lives of the chil­dren who are taught in it.

Pupils from Sixth class, who are bud­dies for the chil­dren in An Choill Bheag, de­scribed how they sup­port them each day with one child com­ment­ing: ‘It is an hon­our to help these pupils’.

The cer­e­mony fin­ished with a read­ing from a poem called ‘Take My Hand’.

Pupils, staff and school prin­ci­pal Au­drey McCarthy at the open­ing of An Choill Bheag , Bal­lymitty Na­tional School’s autism unit.

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