Since February and off the back of The Wonderbaby competition we have raised over £7K
The reason behind all of this?
My daughter Lily-Grace.
She was born prematurely in 2008. Sadly she suffered a hypoglycemic episode when she was just four days old. Lack of oxygen caused a brain bleed which damaged her occipital and parietal lobes. She also has Nystagmus. Optic Nerve Atrophy and squints. She was registered Severely Sight Impaired when she was 10 months old.
Fast forward a few years. She now attends Hambrook Primary School which is our local mainstream school in which her elder brothers attended in earlier years. She has a full statement with 1:1 TA support. Lily-Grace loves school and is eager to learn. She is confident, bright, articulate and smiles ALL the time.
9 months ago she started receiving cane training at school with her mobility officer Gary and will qualify for her first cane in the spring. 6 months ago she started learning Braille with the help of her teacher Cathy and the Vision Support Team at Elmfield House. They provided a standard Perkins Brailler at school. Last October I entered Lily-Grace into an online competition to win a Smart Brailler in conjunction with the RNIB and Wonderbaby.org. The terms were: 6 families took part in a trial. ‘Marty’ The Smart Brailler visited each child in their homes for 2 weeks. The idea being each child could see if it was suitable for their needs and if it would better support their learning of Braille than the standard Perkins Brailler. We were the last family to take part in the trial, four weeks ago.
When ‘Marty’ first arrived we were all a bit daunted by his existence. Apart from Lily who was absolutely over the moon!..No instructions were provided with the Brailler only a online You Tube tutorial. Quickly we got to know the functions. Lily particularly loved the audio feedback and the larger, softer keys were easier for her little fingers to use. We were off. Within two weeks I had familiarised myself with the Braille alphabet and have now moved on to full sentences! Everyday Lily was able to spend time typing Braille at home then reading her work back through her fingers.
When the trial ended there was a ‘Vote Off’ the child with the most votes ‘won’ a Brailler.
I moved heaven and earth..Literally to get votes for 3 full days.
On the first day she was 140 votes behind. I was devastated. My friend in support set up a Crowd Funder to lift my spirits and hope of still getting Lily a brailler, but through pledges. The plan being that the three children in the competition (two pulled out as couldn’t face the prospect of a ‘Vote Off’) would still get a much needed Brailler.
After three days of what one participant’s mother Fynnley, adeptly named as “Hunger Games for Blind children” Lily won by 20 votes.
I didn’t celebrate. I felt flat. I knew the other children NEEDED a brailler too!
So I threw myself into #ProjectBrailler with the plan to get £5K asap. So ALL the children in the competition were WINNERS!!
Now I have completed this task and am still continuing to raise money and awareness of these awesome VI kids. I hope to move forward with #ProjectBrailler. With an aim to provide VI children and their parents in the UK with Smart Braillers and home support using them.
My husband often cries “Why do you think you can take on the world on your own?”
I don’t. But, I can raise a profile. I can rally people. I can win a ‘Vote Off’ I can raise £5K in a week. But I need a sponsor.
With the right backing Project Brailler could help thousands of children read not just 3.
On Wednesday Lily-Grace and her school friend Ava (11) are going into the Manic St Preachers studio in Cardiff with Loz Williams to record a song ‘Brailler Girl’. Its original lyric’s set to Avril Lavigne’s ‘Sk8er Boi’ tune. I adapted the lyrics to sing to Lily-Grace to champion her growing Braille skills. As a family we do this alot. Lily-Grace loves music and always responds positively to it. When you have a child that has no visual cue you find other ways to entertain and comfort them. Singing daft songs is one of them.
The plan is to release Brailler Girl and all proceeds and funds from events already planned will go towards an official launch of Project Brailler.
Please help me make this a reality!..You would be helping VI children read and give their families support learning Braille too.