ST LUCY’S TAX APPEAL
If you believe a great education is vital for every child, please give to St Lucy’s School
so we can keep helping children like Zef learn and thrive.
Your tax-deductible gift today supports St Lucy’s exceptional services, programs and facilities assisting children’s development like communications technologies, the swimming pool Zef loves, our accessible playground, indoor gym and Creative Arts Centre.
Thank you for your generosity
$80 could help improve the swimming pool for all-weather use
$150 could buy materials for intensive art classes
$300 could purchase tools helping non-verbal students communicate
$580 could help St Lucy’s expand facilities to become a K-12 school
Your kind donation today would give a St Lucy’s education to more children with a disability like Zef. In his seven years, he has gone through more difficulties than anyone should have to in a lifetime, and he has fought incredibly hard to get where he is today. Zef was a loving and smiley 11-month-old when he suddenly fell ill.
“I took him to the hospital but we ended up being sent home – they thought it was a normal virus, but the next day he wasn’t conscious and he was fitting,” his mum Lorinda tells us. “He had to be flown from the Central Coast to Westmead Hospital. It was pneumococcal meningitis. They didn’t think he’d survive.” “Zef had a severe brain injury. In intensive care, he had his favourite little giraffe toy and he was putting it over his eyes then taking it off again. I think he was wondering why he couldn’t see. He couldn’t move any part of his body other than his hands. Then we found out he couldn’t hear anything either.”
You can imagine the grief Zef’s parents felt. But they kept hoping and believing their little boy could have a good future. They talked to him, although they weren’t sure how well he could hear with the cochlear implants he’d received in hospital. Gradually they noticed changes.
“I remember turning to him in the car one day while I was driving and thinking ‘he can’t see me’ but then he smiled at me,” Lorinda remembers. “It was wonderful.”
After years of intensive therapy, Zef also learned to sit up, crawl and walk again. Now he can walk short distances on level surfaces. He can stand still for a few seconds before losing his balance. While some of his sight returned, he has a severe vision impairment. He has come such a long way, but he continues to have many complex needs. One in particular worried his parents when the time came for him to start school.
“Zef has no impulse control due to his brain injury, so as he has grown and become stronger, his behaviour has been increasingly challenging to manage,” says Lorinda. “He always loved other kids like he loves his big brother, but because they’re unpredictable and he can’t see well, he’s frightened of them, so he lashes out.”
“At first he went to the local school. The teacher there was lovely but they didn’t have the support or the facilities. He’d come home with bite marks and bruises from the other children. His behaviour challenges were increasing because he was distressed.”
Both his parents were relieved and thankful when he was able to start attending St Lucy’s last year –travelling down from the Central Coast to Wahroonga on our school-funded bus. The biggest change Zef’s dad Peter has noticed since then is that when Zef hears his teacher’s name, Kirstin Willis, a big smile lights up his face. Kirstin can’t believe the transformation she’s seen. Like our other special educators at St Lucy’s, Kirstin follows a ‘positive behaviour’ approach in which all behaviour is viewed as a form of communication.
“As a team here, along with Zef’s parents, we looked at what Zef was trying to tell us through his behaviour. We looked at who he was and who he wanted to be, then how we could help him achieve that because he couldn’t do it by himself.”
Quickly Kirstin recognised Zef’s sociable nature. She also saw that when others moved too close to him, he felt afraid and lashed out. So along with teaching him the primary curriculum, with the adjustments Zef requires, one main goal has been helping Zef express his need for space in appropriate ways so this wouldn’t remain a barrier to him learning or making friends. He has learned to say “move back” when someone is too close for him to cope. He’s been shown ways to play using soft toys or balls, so the experience is always positive for both Zef and the child he’s with. When it’s too noisy or crowded, he now knows he can say “Finish”, and a teacher will take him somewhere quiet for time-out. Where he used to avoid others at recess and lunch, he’ll play on the oval with his classmates. Those times when his feelings overwhelm him and he can’t help lashing out are now very rare at school. Kirstin credits Zef’s hard work, and his wonderful family’s loving support with how far he’s come. But she knows he has also needed the specialist teaching offered at St Lucy’s. Zef’s story shows you the difference you’ve made by supporting the outstanding education we provide.
I’m sure you’d agree that no child with a disability should miss out on the opportunities St Lucy’s can offer. But the truth is many do. That’s why I ask you to please give again today. Your tax-deductible donation by 30 June would help us welcome more students into this nurturing environment. To keep helping children like Zef develop their unique abilities, please give now so they can benefit sooner from the exceptional teaching available here.
If you have any queries or wish to donate by phone, please call the Community Fundraising Office 02 8355 3154