Inclusion was the watchword when we donated money recently to Sgoil an Rubha and Sandwick Learning Centre to help buy specialised cycling equipment for children with additional support needs.
At Sgoil an Rubha, we were helping the children give the gift of independent cycling to one of their classmates, Connor Macleod from Upper Bayble.
The pupils had organised a sponsored cycle to buy him a specialised bike. And we made sure the fundraising got off to a flying start – by putting the first £250 in the pot. Now Connor has his own perfect set of wheels.
We have a history of supporting Sgojl an Rubha, donating two full sets of school strips late last year and money for Lego play therapy sets before that.
This latest donation, towards the cost of the bike at more than £900, is a further boost for inclusion in Point and Sandwick. Connor, who is in principal teacher Anne Macphail’s P3/4/5 composite class, will be able to keep the bike in school or take it home as it is highly portable.
Teacher Anne explained the idea for the sponsored cycle had come from the children themselves.
“The whole class wanted to do something for Connor that shows he’s included. It wasn’t about the money. It was about giving him the same rights that they have. The kids absolutely adore Connor. They were very enthusiastic about doing something for their classmate.”
Anne did not want the children to feel under pressure to raise a lot of money themselves, though – so she came to Point and Sandwick Trust for some help. She said it was “a real feelgood story”, where “the kids all came together and the community helped us”.
In the end, the children raised £608 themselves but everyone at PST was more than happy to help and PST representatives Angus McCormack and Donald John MacSween went along on the day to cheer on the children. Angus McCormack said it was a “wonderful” moment.
“It really was a great experience to see how committed the young lad’s classmates were to helping him to get the bike that he needed and it was very impressive to see that all the other children in the school were cheering them on. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
For safety reasons, the Sgoil an Rubha cycle took place at the school itself on Thursday, 29 March, with Active Schools coordinator Eric ‘Strada’ Macleod taking care of many of the practicalities, such as measuring laps.
Around 24 children took part altogether and they managed a collective total of 25 miles. Each child did eight laps around the school and they cycled in groups of eight. The whole event took an hour.
Appropriately, the event took place just before National Autism Awareness Month and a week after World Down’s Syndrome Day, although the timing was coincidental.
And in a nice show of support, the whole school wore odd socks – traditionally worn to raise awareness on World Down’s Syndrome Day – on the day of the sponsored cycle. Some of the older children – those with Young Leader certificates – also helped, by acting as marshals.
“The sun was shining and Connor managed to do his own laps,” said Anne. “I just thought this was huge because this wee guy is making tiny steps. There’s a quote that says, ‘Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need’.”
Anne said PST “saw a real need” when she approached us for money.
“They gave us a donation towards the bike and we’re very thankful that they wanted to be part of the initiative. When I contacted them about it, Donald John said, ‘definitely – this is great’. It’s great to have that involvement and partnership – and they enjoyed the day.”
Meanwhile, we also donated £250 to the Sandwick Learning Centre, which enabled its staff to buy a second disability trike for their youngsters.
PST general manager Donald John MacSeen said: “PST are delighted to continue working with Sgoil an Rudha and the Sandwick facility, and have pleasure in topping up their recent sponsorship efforts to purchase two bikes for use by pupils.
“The teachers in both schools continue to provide a great service for the pupils, in these austere times, and PST will continue to provide support for the two schools in our area.”
The trike for Sandwick was the result of a request from another Anne Macphail – the learning support teacher for Sgoil an Rubha who also works in Sandwick on a Friday.
A number of the children attending Sandwick also attend Sgoil an Rubha, including Connor, and Anne remembered that PST had previously supported the Sgoil an Rubha children with additional support needs, with their Lego play therapy donation.
This time, the need was for wheels. The children at Sandwick already had one disability trike and loved it – but were having to wait a while to take turns.
She said: “A lot of these children couldn’t access regular bikes and trikes. This disability trike enables them to enjoy the freedom of a bike. They had one already and I thought, ‘hey, it would be great to have another one!’ They love it. There’s such a smile on their faces because it’s something they can do independently.
“They can do the pedalling, they are able to move around without somebody there with them. They’ll be looking round and grinning and you’re telling them, ’will you face the front!’ because they are so chuffed with it.”
The children normally use the bike in the Sandwick hall during playtime after lunch but Anne hopes they will be able to take it outside during the better weather.
Unlike Connor’s set of wheels, which is a specialised bicycle, this is a large disability trike, which cost £249.99 from Amazon – leaving a penny change from our donation.
Anne said the support was “absolutely fantastic”, adding: “We wouldn’t have had it if it wasn’t for the Point and Sandwick Trust. It’s great to see things going directly back to the local community and to young people – especially those who are disadvantaged.”
In the main picture, from left to right: Eric Macleod, Active Schools coordinator; Donald John MacSween, Connor’s mum, Donna Macleod; principal teacher Anne Macphail; Connor Macleod; Sarah Marnock, Connor’s one-to-one; and Angus McCormack.
Pictures by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos Photography.