WESC Foundation - The Specialist Centre For Visual Impairment

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Countess Wear Topsham Road,

01392 454334

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WESC Foundation Christmas Appeal 2013

Please will you give a child a voice this Christmas?


I’m writing to ask you to give a special Christmas donation to help us give the children and young people at WESC Foundation a voice.

I’d like to introduce you to Patrick. Patrick is a very sociable young man who loves to make us laugh! He finds it funny to tell us it’s raining when it’s sunny outside and he finds it funnier to tell us he’s sad when he’s got a beaming smile on his face! Patrick loves to tell jokes and he tells them using specialist software on his iPad.

Patrick has hydrocephalus (a type of brain injury), cerebral palsy and visual and hearing impairments. Patrick also has verbal dyspraxia, which severely limits his brain’s ability to send messages to his speech muscles so that they can make the very complex movements and sounds needed to form words and sentences.  Sounds complicated I know, and it is but it makes it even more important for the team at WESC Foundation to provide Patrick with the right communication aids unique to his ability.

Patrick uses his own sounds and gestures to talk about his environment and meet his basic needs. Patrick also makes representational sounds, for example, clicking, to tell us he’s been horse-riding.

When Patrick arrived at WESC we introduced him to a computer programme that used an artificial voice to ‘read out’ messages assigned to different symbols.  By using this computer software, Patrick could tap a symbol on a touch screen monitor to request his favourite drink, ask someone their name and, just like the rest of us, talk about the weather.

Over time we realised this table-top communication aid was too large to be portable and with Patrick leading an active lifestyle, we introduced him to an iPad. At a fraction of the cost and lightweight enough to be carried around comfortably on a shoulder strap, Patrick’s voice output communication aid goes wherever he does. Patrick can now make friends in the supermarket, chat to the bus driver and place his own order at the café.

Indeed, Patrick is now experiencing a whole new world of enjoying conversations. With the support of the Speech and Language Therapy team, Patrick writes in his diary and writes letters home to his family.

For me and the team at WESC who get to work with Patrick, it is truly amazing to be part of his progress and journey. It fills us with a deep sense of pride when his personality and character shine through.

This is freedom.


So, what do you say every day that you couldn’t imagine your life without? Perhaps it’s asking for milk and two sugars or saying I love you. At WESC Foundation we know that even though we might not be able to hear it, every child and young person has a voice, it’s just a matter of working out their unique needs for them to express it.

For many of the children and young people, communicating doesn’t happen in the traditional sense. The speech and language therapy team, of which I am part, support each child and young person to communicate their needs and personality as much as possible. I am sure you will agree that this is a fundamental part of leading a happy life.

In some cases it takes much more than a team of therapists for a child to find their voice. Some children require specialist equipment that enables their personality to shine through, give them hope and so very importantly, build their independence.

You can help us give them a confident voice with a Christmas gift.

Giving just £20 this Christmas will help purchase specialist symbol-based communication resources that encourage children to start communicating.

Giving a generous gift of £45 will enable us to purchase a flexible ‘arm’ or ‘mounting frame’ to position a communication aid in the most effective and comfortable place for the child with unique physical needs.

And a very special gift of £105 will purchase a push button communication device enabling a young person like Patrick to enjoy reading out the joke inside the Christmas cracker independently with pre-recorded messaging.

Whatever you can give, please will you give your very best gift this Christmas so that together we may give the best gift of all, giving a child a voice.

Thank you and Merry Christmas

Mark Methley, Speech and Language Therapist at WESC Foundation

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