Walkie-talkies are helping special needs students venture safely into the local community.
For most of us, walkie-talkies are associated with police television shows, spy novels or toys we played with as kids. But for St Lucy’s School in Sydney, a pair of walkie-talkies has freed up students and their teachers to go on excursions and explore their local community in safety.
Located at Wahroonga on the north shore, St Lucy’s is a Catholic primary school dedicated to students with special needs including intellectual disabilities. Many of the school’s 140 students are also on the autisim spectrum.
Susan Jones, deputy principal at St Lucy’s, explains that teachers use the walkie-talkies, which they were able to buy following a donation from the Lions Community 100 initiative, as part of the school’s ‘Life Skills in the Community Program’. They talk to each other on them while accompanying students on excursions and can also use them to communicate with the school.
To help their special needs students learn shopping and social skills – even how to safely cross a road – they must be able to safely explore their local environment and this is where the Life Skills program comes in.
“We are basically developing community skills when we venture out on excursions,” says Susan. “Many of the students have medical needs and also walk at different rates so the walkie-talkies help the staff who are accompanying the students keep in touch with each other easily.”
After using the walkie-talkies in the local area they were also able to take them further afield.
“We were even able to take some of the students on a school camp and use the walkie-talkies to enable everyone to keep in touch,” she explains.
The Hornsby Lions Club says it’s donation marked a long association between Lions and the school. A further $800 was also donated to purchase an iPad loaded with Proloquo2go, a program to enable students without vocal skills communicate via a screen.
“We are impressed with the school and what they achieve,” says Pauline Henebery from Hornsby Lions. “St Lucy’s was the recipient of the first donations our Club ever made to the community in 1959 when the group formed. We donated money to help them buy their first bus and we are pleased to keep on being able to help.”
St Lucy’s School was established in 1938 and moved to its Wahroonga campus in 1959. It caters for students with intellectual disabilities from all denominations. To discover more about St Lucy’s and the Life Skills in the Community Program see www.stlucys.nsw.edu.au.
For more information about the Hornsby Lions Club, hornsby.nsw.lions.org.au
Story by Jennifer Stackhouse for Country Style Magazine
Photo courtesy of St Lucy’s School