An Introduction to the Saturday Fun Club
by Andrea Fox
My Name is Andrea Fox and I am a member of SBHI. I would like to take this time to share my story with you and why I decided to set up the Saturday Fun Club.
I was born on the 4th of August 1980. At first I wasn’t diagnosed with any form of disability until I had my 7 week check up, when they informed both my parents that I had a disability known as “Hydrocephalus”, which was traditionally known as ‘water on the brain’.
At the time my parents knew nothing about Hydrocephalus, nor did they really want to. Instead they brought me up like the rest of my siblings. I started school at the age of 4 in a local mainstream school. At this time I wasn’t really aware of my disability, so I took part in everything that I wasn’t supposed to do.
My parents didn’t inform my teachers of my disability as they wanted me to live life to my fullest and for the teachers not to make any special exemptions or isolate me from activities. School was a challenge, and from 3rd class onwards it became harder. I struggled with English, and maths especially, but I loved school and worked very hard.
At the age of ten I had a bleed to the brain and had forgotten everything in life I had previous learnt, from my reading, writing, and even walking all became a huge challenge. The biggest shock was when I had to return to school where I started the long progress of learning it all over again. I had a lovely resource teacher who helped me learn these skills needed all over again.
I look back now and am so grateful this teacher took the time to teach me these important skills. I went onto a mainstream secondary school where I sat my junior and leaving certificate, but life still had its challenges every day, however I was determined to carry on. I went onto do a Certificate in Business & Computers in Crumlin College. It was during that year that I had to get work experience. And so I decided to take up my placement in a local Computer Training Centre, where the manager let me assist him with teaching the children the computers.
I loved it and went on to do some work outside of college for him. I realised that the dream I always had in the back of my mind was to help teach others who find learning a challenge. I left college after the first year because I knew it was not for me. So, in order to fulfil my dream, I went onto a part time and home study course in Computers and Special Needs. I also started a part-time NUI Maynooth Certificate in Continuing Education. After 3 years of studying both in college and distance learning I went onto follow my dream. In 2006 I set up my own little computer training business catering for adults, Senior Citizens, and children aged 6years up, many of whom have some sort of learning difficulty. I knew it would be a major challenge, but after being told in a former job that I would never be a trainer, I was more determined than ever to prove them wrong. I set up my own Computer Training centre where I thought senior citizens ECDL, before going onto teach children with specific learning difficulties.
In 2009 I decided to become a member of SBHI, where I made many friends. I became Dublin Youth Officer and then In 2010 I was appointed National Youth Officer.
It was during my time as youth officer that I noticed there was no specific activities for the younger members in terms of being offered throughout the year. It wasn’t until 2010 when I became National Youth Officer that I decided to look at setting up a voluntary children’s club.
The reason for setting up the club was to provide the children with a chance to learn skills needed to function in life – I believe that everyone deserves the chance to fulfil their dreams and so I wanted to be able to provide a safe, fun, and relaxed environment where they could come and learn new skills through fun-based educational activities.
Over the past four years I have gone on to achieve several Fetac Courses in Childcare, Special Needs Assisting Level 5 & 6, and distance learning Montessori courses. I am going on to further my career by doing a Montessori and Early Years Course via Portabello College.
To this day I am so grateful of the chance I got in primary school with my resource teacher. I feel that the younger you start, the easier it becomes later on in life. To date I have been able to prove to people that no matter what the disability is, each person has their own qualities and strengths and deserves to be given the best chance in life.