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Exam results are an important part of School life. But so is all-round education.
St John’s School in Leatherhead has hosted its first Community Holiday for children with disabilities aged 10-16. The fun-packed residential week has seen pupils and staff hosting 19 young children with severe special needs in the School’s boarding houses.
St John’s pupils worked tirelessly throughout the week to provide each child with one-to-one care and attention, with games, stories and activities. The children were treated to days out at the seaside, activity centres and theme parks during the week, as well as a trip to see West End show Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (including a backstage tour!). At St John’s, the full in-house programme featured daily singing, sports, crafts and also theatre and drama sessions. The children learned a number of exciting things throughout the course of the week, from sailing and kayaking to circus skills.
The holiday allowed parents and carers a week of much-needed respite, safe in the knowledge that their children were being fully cared for and supported, and having a fantastic time.
Head of Community Service at St John’s, Judith Fowler, commented: "This week has been amazing. To see St John’s teenagers look after some very charming but challenging young children with a range of mental and physical disabilities has been humbling.
"It’s gratifying to see our teenagers not only grow in confidence and care for this lovely group of children - but do it so well! Most adults I know would find this week a very tough ask - never mind doing this at ages 16, 17, 18 and 19 years old. There is so much more to an education than qualifications. I take great pride in watching them learn, emotionally grow and care for these youngsters. It’s deeply rewarding to see seeds being sown amongst young people who are themselves very fortunate gain great personal fulfilment from helping others."
Pupils from the School volunteered 24 hours a day, overseen by a 15-strong team from Oundle School Mencap Holiday (OSMH). With over 30 years’ experience of running such holidays, OSMH worked hard to ensure that St John’s pupils learn the skills needed to make this holiday happen.
The School will run this holiday every August. Any supported child who has a place this year is guaranteed a place in subsequent years until they are 16 years old.
St John’s prides itself in the energy, optimism and kindness of its pupils, alongside their academic achievements. The pupil volunteers surpassed themselves during the holiday, caring for the children with consideration, compassion and humility.
The Community Holiday is a key part of the School’s desire to connect more closely with the local community and to extend the community service volunteering of its pupils.
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