A County Derry charity that aims to empower people with special needs through music and the arts has plans for ‘Something Special’ in Limavady.
Denise White, founder and director of Something Special says the Eglinton-based learning disability charity hopes to expand its services to the Roe Valley, where she says a huge need has been identified.
“We have a lot of students who would like to avail of our services and because we have a base in Eglinton and a base in Derry, Limavady - in terms of Dungiven, Magilligan and all the areas around Limavady - there are a lot of students who want to access what we do,” Denise told the Journal at an open day at LCDI in Limavady.
Denise founded Something Special in April 2007 due to what she describes as her frustration at the lack of educational and social opportunities for those young people and adults with learning disabilities. She says it was here uncle Dessie, who had Down’s Syndrome who was the inspiration for the charity.
“Having spent so much time with my uncle Dessie, and teaching in the field of special needs, I realised the effect of how creativity impacts on the lives of those with learning disabilities. And thus, Something Special was born,” says Denise.
Something Special has grown rapidly in the past number of years and Denise wants to expand, a move Limavady Mayor Alan Robinson welcomed.
“I’ve been told there is a huge need in Limavady so I have to say I absolutely welcome this and it’s heartwarming here today,” said Mayor Robinson, “and I look forward to this.”
Something Special manager Martin McLaughlin believes people in Limavady will benefit frm the service.
“A lot of people with a learning disability are stuck at home and they need stimulation and person centred programmes,” said Mr McLaughlin, “ande believe we can make a difference to their lives.”
Volunteer Mary Lynch from Eglinton has always been involved in helping people with learning disabilities, initially through her son John and with Belmont Parents and Friends Association .
Her son John is a former student and now a volunteer and ambassador for Something Special. He says he loves working with students and says his first hand of experience of Something Special knows what it is like for others.
“It’s great to work with the students. I really like it,” said John.
Denise says Something Special has come to the end of a Big Lottery funded program for four years, and says she hopes politicians will get behind charity.
“We made a mvoie about the four and half years and the impact it has had on MLAs when we showed it at Stormont a few weeks ago, they thought ‘right, there really is somehting in this’”, said Denise.
“We need them to get behind us at this point because it has so much potential and it has transformed lives, so we need the backing for this to be rolled out for hundreds more students.”
She added: “In terms of cutting down on transport costs we hope to have a base, an outreach centre in Limavady as well. It spreads the word about what we do and what we are trying to achieve because we don’t just want to be a wee dot in Eglinton. We want to showcase how we are unique through music and creativity and how we can empower young and older adults with learning disabilities and transform lives essentially.”