Breaking down barriers for children with special needs at Oakdale school

Two ladies stand in front of a sign reading Oakdale School and Acorn Nursery

Oakdale school in Greater Manchester is now able to purchase a wheelchair swing, thanks to customer Kelly Wray.

I am incredibly passionate about Oakdale school. My son Max has one year left at the school and during his time here I have also been a school governor.

Oakdale School in Dukinfield caters for children between the ages of two to 11 with severe learning difficulties and autistic spectrum disorders. A third of all students here are either wheelchair users or suffer from restricted mobility.

I have been a customer of Engage Mutual since I had my first son 19 years ago. Being part of a mutual is really important to me and I’m really pleased that the Foundation gives back to its customers.

I applied for an award through the Foundation to purchase a dual wheelchair swing so that all children at Oakdale can play inclusively together, regardless of whether they are in a wheelchair or not.

“The swing is so much more inclusive – whether able bodied or in a wheelchair, this swing will mean our children can play alongside each other.”

The new swing will make such a difference to all of the children’s lives at the school. To be able to play together, side by side, might sound so simple to most, but for our children, it is something they have dreamed of doing for such a long time. The swing will help us with our aim of creating a school community where no child will be left feeling isolated or excluded due to their disability.

There is an area of playground in the school where the equipment is coming to the end of its life, so the wheelchair swing will fit perfectly in this space. It will help us to enrich the lives of all our children and help to raise their self-esteem.

“Many children will not have experienced the playground rush of being on a swing before.”

Without this award, we would not have been able to purchase the swing for a long time. Getting people together to build up the support has been such an enjoyable and rewarding process. All the parents and community across the region have really got behind our cause and we’re overwhelmed by the response we have received.

We cannot thank everyone enough for the votes and backing we’ve had – the difference this will make to my son, Max, and the whole school is immeasurable.

“The sense of achievement when you’ve actually won an award like this is just marvellous and it’s a privilege to be in this position.”

The Foundation means the world to me. Being able to apply for something that you’re really passionate about is amazing and the sense of achievement when you’ve actually won is marvellous. It’s such a privilege to be in this position.

I am so so pleased that I applied for the award and I can now give it back to our wonderful school. To anyone thinking of applying, go for it. Put your heart in to it, write down all your thoughts and feelings about the project and I’m sure you will have the success that we have had with our award.