When Emma and Rob moved their young family over from Dublin to Staffordshire in 2015, they struggled to connect with all of the services and support they had access to before. Another parent told them about Hopes and Beams and they’ve come to Broad Street almost every Saturday since.
“From a health point of view, the NHS is there and it’s great, but for George it was development, it was inclusion. As parents we were worried he was going to be isolated. There aren’t a huge number of facilities for children with special needs around where we live, so when we heard about this place we grasped the opportunity.” – Rob, George’s dad
George’s behaviour changed when the family moved from Ireland and he started school, but coming to Hopes and Beams has helped him – and his parents – to learn what’s acceptable and what he’s capable of.
“I couldn’t get George to go anywhere – he was a bolter. If I wanted him to go somewhere the only way I could get him to go was running, so I was running everywhere with him. Here, Jane tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘What are you going to do when he’s 18? Are you going to be running everywhere with him or are you going to teach him what’s socially appropriate?’” – Emma, George’s mum
George takes part in our child development classes and the Young Athletes programme at Hopes and Beams. For now he’s practising skills like balance, jumping and hand-eye coordination. As he gets older he will start to learn more specialised elements of gymnastics like floor routines, but along the way he’s also picking up skills for life.
“Although it is gymnastics, it’s a lot more than gymnastics. It is completely holistic because it’s the listening skills to follow instructions, and helping one another, and building friendships within the group.” – Emma
It’s not only given George a sense of achievement and grown his confidence coming to Hopes and Beams. Emma and Rob now feel they have a target and an ambition for George – to one day compete at the Special Olympics – that many parents of children with disabilities might miss out on. The whole family has become part of our community, one that really cares and looks after each other.
“We have parents we can talk to, we know George loves coming here, that he’s got a friendship group that will be with him all the way through school, into his early adulthood and beyond.” – Rob