Siobhán O’Donovan, the Special Educational Needs Coordinator in St Vincent’s Secondary School in Cork shares the story about The Lir Hub and the wonderful achievement of Anna Stack, a pupil at St Vincent’s who recently had a book published.
“The Lir Hub opened in September 2013. It supports students with Autism who have been recommended to attend a special class placement in a mainstream school. It was the first centre in Ireland to offer support in a girl’s only setting.
Joanne O’Riordan formally opened Tearmann Lir in September 2014, the Lord Mayor Councillor Tony Fitzgerald performed the official opening of our new rooms in Sept 2017. The Lir Hub is a wonderful asset to our school, we have all learned so much from it. It has fostered a great spirit of inclusivity which is a central component of the ethos of our school.
Ms Claire Barry and I work with the students, their parents, teachers and SNA’s each day to ensure that all students individual needs are catered for.
The first student who enrolled was a girl called Anna Stack in 2013. Anna is an 18 year old student who was diagnosed with childhood autism when very young. While this has presented her with many challenges along the way it has also been an empowering part of her life. Anna is a very artistic and creative student. In sixth class she had her first novel published ‘Victoria Bunnyham’, not only did Anna write the book she did all the illustrations herself. It is Anna’s latest endeavour that I would like to tell you about.
Anna has built up a portfolio of drawings over her years here at St Vincent’s where she expresses artistically what Anna’s ideal world would look like. The vision of one of our SNA Team Ms Vivien O’Leary Callendar has taken this to the next level. Both Anna and Vivien have complied 100 illustrations in the form of a colouring book for children called “Anna’s Dreamworld” in which she asks the children to ‘colour Anna’s world their way’. The book has been published and it was launched in the school on Wednesday 21st November. This has been made possible by the generosity of the local community through sponsorship and advertising. One thousand copies of the book have been sold to date.
The Examiner newspaper, Cork 96 FM and the Evening Echo have come on board and have publicised the launch of her book. The Evening Echo were so impressed by what they saw they have asked Anna to provide the illustrations for their KIDS Zone section for two weeks. Anna has designed the official Christmas card for Blackpool Shopping centre.
Anna’s journey through secondary school was very challenging and with the support of her wonderful family and the school community she has accomplished many outstanding achievements. Anna completed her primary education in Scartleigh National School where she attended the ASD Unit and integrated into mainstream school for a period of time every day. In 2016 Anna successfully completed her Junior Cert, a wonderful moment for Anna, her family and all the school community. Anna is currently in Leaving Certificate.
We as a school community students, teachers and SNA’s have learnt so much from Anna. Anna is very open about her ASD diagnosis and is very articulate when communicating to her peers what it is like to have autism. This has allowed the mainstream students to get an insight into ASD and this in turn has engaged them, we have a student body who are very supportive of one another and who have a great understanding of the fact while we all have different needs we can all work together in a positive way.”
Congratulations to Anna and all involved in this great project from the Religious Sisters of Charity.
Click HERE to see a Cork 96 FM's video of Anna at the book launch.