One thing that the young people who belong to Vinnies are great at showing is compassion. Sometimes this is borne out of their own personal struggles which develop within them empathy for others. Over the years the St. Joseph Vinnies have had as active participants within our group a student with Downs Syndrome, a student with autism and another with epilepsy that has affected their learning. Therefore our topic of finding out about famous people with specific learning disabilities who found school a challenge provided encouragement that despite the difficulties these famous people faced, with the right help and opportunities they were able to go on to do great things.
Included within out study were people such as Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Richard Branson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marco Pierre White, Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci.
As part of the study into specific learning disabilities, the Vinnies had visits from Susie Cowper, Coordinator of SLD Nelson talking about what specific learning disabilities are and the resources teachers trained in this area use to assist students. As well as this, Kathy Surridge who runs the 3D Learning Programme at St. Joseph’s for students who have a different learning style was able to share with us about her work. The visits allowed the Vinnies to reflect on the struggles that class peers with specific learning disabilities have and how they may be able to be of assistance.
The artwork and information about the famous people with dyslexia that the Vinnies focussed upon as part of this study then went on display in the children’s section of the Elma Turner Library in Nelson in correlation with international Dyslexia Awareness Week which takes place during the first week of October each year. Not only was this a great opportunity to raise public awareness of dyslexia but also what people with dyslexia are able to achieve. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding”.