“I wanted to see what my little brother gets up to all day!”
That’s one of the reasons why Henar chose to spend her work experience week at CPotential. Henar, 16, attends Dwight School in Friern Barnet and her brother has been coming to CPotential for three years.
She says, “It was also a good opportunity to learn more about how CPotential helps children with disabilities like my brother.”
As well as spending time with him in his classes – “I think I was a bit of a distraction!” – Henar sat in with the nursery class, an occupational therapy session and a sensory integration session.
She also got to see how we deliver Conductive Education to help each child be as active as possible. “It was interesting to see how the children react to the activities and how they make progress.”
The experience may well be useful going forward as Henar is interested in studying psychology. Maybe she’ll be back one day with us in a professional capacity!
Orsi Farkas is a Conductor at CPotential. We asked her about her job at the Centre.
When and why did you join CPotential?
I came to CPotential (then called the London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy) in January 2014. I had trained in Conductive Education and Teaching at the International Peto Institute in Hungary and then worked at the Foundation for Conductive Education (NICE) in Birmingham.
I wanted to live in London and experience the life of a Londoner. I worked at the Centre’s summer camp in 2013 and really liked it.
What’s your role?
Over time I’ve moved around the various aspects of the work we do, working with children of different ages and abilities.
I started as a Team Leader and Conductor-Teacher for our Conductive nursery group, and then I became a Conductor-in-Charge for our sessional service, working with children from babies to teenagers. I’m now working as part-time Conductor with our multi-disciplinary team in the Woodstar School nursery class and I’m also an assessor for the Mollii suit assistive device.
What are the key skills you need for your job?
It’s kind of impossible to name only one or two skills as it’s much more than that but, I’d say, in addition to clinical knowledge, you need empathy, creativity, problem-solving and tons of enthusiasm.
You also need to be playful and flexible, observant, and you always need to look at the each child you work with as a unique and individual character and you need to be motivating.
It’s all about putting your expertise and experience together moment by moment to make the learning and development enjoyable for the children. Being a good listener is also vital.
What do you like about working at CPotential?
We work with children with various abilities, skills and diagnoses. They all are amazing and they give us the greatest reward day by day – that we can be part of their journey on the road of their development. The families are also a huge part of our operation. They are fabulous. We see them as our partners in helping the children achieve through their work with us.
There’s no day without some success, great or small. Overall, it can be a challenging job but I always feel appreciated.
What is the professional team like?
I’m also lucky to be part of such a great team. From a professional point of view it’s really stimulating to work as part of an incredible multi-disciplinary team, which includes Conductors and SEN teachers along with experts in speech and language therapy and sensory integration, an occupational therapist and an amazing music therapist.
We’re always learning from each other and sharing best practice to ensure the children get the most out of our holistic approach.
At CPotential your colleagues are not just the people you work with – we really bond as friends, supporting each other. We also have a lot of fun!
How have you been able to develop your career?
I’ve been given lots of opportunities to develop my career, taking on new challenges. The management is supportive. In the past year alone I’ve had training in Rebound therapy and signing.
I’ve also had the chance to represent CPotential and the Mollii suit at SEN exhibitions and conferences. It’s always a great experience to meet families and other professionals. Every interaction has helped me learn and widen my professional expertise as a Conductor.
I’ve now taken on the lead as our clinical assessor for the Mollii suit. This is an assistive device for children and adults with cerebral palsy and other movement disorders, which can help reduce spasticity and improve muscle tone. We offer people free trials and I take each person through the assessment process. It’s been useful to add this work to my professional skill set.
We’re delighted to share with you three delightful videos all about our Early Intervention sessions made by our friends at BBC Children in Need and now available on their social media.
The children and their mums come for weekly sessions with Dorka, our Conductor in Charge. As you can see, it’s all about having fun while gaining lots of useful physical and social skills to help their all-round development.
It’s amazing what you can do with a coloured sheet…
Huge thanks to BBC Children in Need, who generously fund this service.
This term the children at Woodstar School have been learning about recycling and doing their bit in the national campaign to reduce plastic rubbish.
Finn Emmerson, Head of Woodstar School, explains why: “Recycling is an important issue in the world and, as we’ve all been made aware recently with the problem with single-use plastic items, we wanted to do our bit.”
After watching a video together about plastic pollution in the oceans the children said they wanted to help save the animals and do something to help the community. They’re already recycling things like lunchtime waste but they learned from the video that they could also reduce the amount of plastic they use themselves.
So the class decided to make ‘bags for life’ for their shopping trips, which they decorated with eco-friendly messages.
They also learnt that recycling means turning rubbish into something new, so they made bird feeders for the school garden out of old juice cartons. And went, suitably covered up, to our local park to do a spot of litter removal.
Finn says: “This type of Learning for Living project supports each of our pupils’ all-round development – their learning and thinking skills, communication, fine motor movements, being active and involved in the community – and, most importantly, developing as confident members of society while having lots of fun.”
Q: Where can your child build up their independent living skills, make friends and have fun?
A: Our fantastic Saturday Sessions
Specially designed for children aged 5-15 who have some level of independence – sitting, crawling, rolling or walking by themselves – our Saturday sessions are all about building up confidence, independence and problem-solving skills while having a great time.
Everyday activities that we take for granted can be much, much harder for a mum or dad of a disabled child.
Shopping is just one example. Going to the shops can present a range of basic practical challenges for a child if they use a wheelchair or walker. For a child with sensory processing difficulties the whole experience can be unsettling, even frightening.
A child with sensory processing difficulties may be oversensitive or undersensitive to the world around them. They may have an extreme response to loud noises or bright lights, they may dislike being touched or have a constant need to touch people or things even when it’s not appropriate.
Shoppers and shop staff can often lack the knowledge to be patient and sympathetic when they see a disabled child behaving differently from what they’re used to.
So, for the child and their family, getting out and about can become a physical and emotional obstacle course. Something to avoid.
That’s why we provide Learning for Living at CPotential and Woodstar School.
How does Learning for Living help the children we work with?
At CPotential we take everyday experiences and break them down into small, manageable components that the children can learn and get used to, so they are well prepared and able to cope. We call this Learning for Living.
We plan this process over a number of weeks, involving the children in every step of the process and rehearsing it, so that they understand and feel comfortable when they undertake the activity.
We take the children out to different places – shops, libraries, parks, woods, museums – as well as learning everyday skills in school from washing up to finding out bus schedules. They get to do and make things that form a part of everyday life. It’s a vital way to help each child practise the skills they’re learning in their lessons and sessions in real-life situations and build up their confidence.
The process also helps develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills, which help the child to be as independent as possible in all areas of life.
How you can help
Your donation will enable us to keep giving our pupils the chance to learn about and experience life – just like other children do.
Learning for Living in action
As part of their lessons about Healthy Eating, the children made hummus. First, they discussed what ingredients they needed, learning about their sizes, shapes and properties such as flavours, and made a list. They planned and rehearsed their journey to the shop, interacting with people to find the ingredients and paying for them. One the day of the trip they went to a local shop with their teachers. They found the items on the shelves and paid for them. Then they came back to school and made the hummus.
A simple shopping trip, which provided lots of real-life Learning for Living.
We are here – and we want the world to know about it.
That’s what the children at Woodstar School and Nursery said loud and clear to celebrate World Cerebral Palsy Day on Friday 6th October.
They had fun making their own posters, which we displayed in our charity shops. And they enjoyed a visit on Friday to our Muswell Hill Broadway shop to share the day with lots of people they met.
Gabbie Czifra, Head of Conductive Education Services, said: “We support World Cerebral Palsy Day because we agree with its aims to ensure that children and adults with cerebral palsy have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else. This tallies with our passion to empower the children who come to our school and Centre to achieve their potential.”