Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Evan’s Story

By: GERALDINE DELAHUNT

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Takaharu Tezuka, the famed Japanese architect who spoke at the launch of the newly published Universal Design Guidelines for Early Learning and Care settings on June 10, spoke about inclusion. One of the things he said that struck me was “Children with disabilities need adventure too”. Evan’s story features in the Universal Design Guidelines. Geraldine Delahunt, owner of Wigwams, spoke at the launch. Evan and his mum were were unable to attend the event but their words were read out. We in Early Childhood Ireland wanted everyone to hear about this determined, courageous boy, his mum Tracy, and how Geraldine and her staff in Wigwams provide adventures for all children.

 

This is Evan’s story…

Evan was 2 years 10 months old when he first arrived at Wigwams in 2014. He could not walk unaided and was nonverbal. He has a visual impairment and this condition affects his bilateral frontal cortex. He cannot see anything: no shadows, no vision at all.

Wigwams is a fully inclusive preschool and when I learned what his needs were, I decided to make changes so he could participate fully. I built a sensory garden to support his needs and interests. I wanted to ensure this little child was given every possible opportunity to enjoy his early years in my setting.  

We provide seamless provision, so children can access the outdoor throughout the day.  We place huge emphasis on nature and grass is our terrain of choice. Walking on grass gives children so many sensory opportunities, and if they fall it doesn’t hurt them.

Evan had never felt grass before, so initially he was unsure as he navigated the sensory garden. But he soon became a whizz, and nothing fazed him. On the entrance to the garden I placed a mint scented plant, so he knew he was entering the garden, and at the exit was a lavender plant. A yellow hand rail all around the garden gave easy, independent access for Evan, supporting his hand over hand movement as he learned to walk, giving him freedom to navigate the entire garden unaided.

At the left there is a friendship bench, where we all sat, read stories and chatted. As he moved down the garden using his hand rail, we placed tiny hills for him to climb. At each of these was a sensory or tactile opportunity, like brushes, sponges of different grades, and many other items we could replace easily. These were at his waist level, glued or screwed to the fence. I placed a hill with a slide so his friends could join him, pulling themselves up the grass to the top of the hill and then, with support, slide down into a sandy area. He and all the children loved it. This provided support for balance, their proprioceptive senses and their vestibular system. I observed many children gain confidence in their spatial awareness and balance while playing in this garden.      

Evan loves music, so I made a music wall and drum set from recycled materials, with wooden, plastic and metal pots and pans.  Each item provided different sounds and tactile experiences. While I gathered materials, my husband Del did all the work. He followed my design and we risk assessed every area to ensure it was safe and fit for purpose. The only real outlay was hiring a digger to do the foundation work. 

Evan went on to navigate our larger outdoor spaces with his friends, almost 1/4 acre of uneven terrain, going from space to space sometimes using a dolls buggy to navigate the pathways. This was because he was now confident, empowered and had developed the skills he needed.  He left us in 2017. I am super proud of this little man: he knows no boundaries.

 

This is what Tracy, Evan’s mum says:

I would like to say that without the support that Evan got in Wigwams he would not be as independent as he is today. Evan was given the best experiences. Just like all the other children, he played in the gardens, he made friends, and would come home and tell me about his day. I was so happy to know that he could use his sensory garden to promote his development. Evan spent a little over three years at Ger’s. She believed in him, made him his own sensory garden, gave me support in every way possible and brought myself and Mike out many times to show us how much Evan had progressed. She also pointed me in the right direction for supports. Every day he would come home with a story of the gardens, where he played and who he played with. I think that without the early years supports in Wigwams gardens he would not be the boy he is today, and I am so grateful to these people. Wigwams garden is the best childhood experience any child could have, like being in a great big field of freedom, with lots of fun places to play. I know that because he was playing outside, feeling the grass, running the water and using his sensory garden to learn, this gave him the best start. He learned to tolerate so many sensory things he used to be scared of touching. When I asked Evan what he remembered he said, “I loved my music wall and my water wall. I splashed and played my drums, it was so much fun. And ran down the hill onto my slides. The grass was soft, and sometimes it was cold”.

1 comments Comments

One Response

  1. Debbie Mullen says:

    well done Ger and team

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

College(1) early childhood educator(2) Infection Control(1) refugees(1) Covid response(2) Lego(2) Nuturing interactions(1) Aistear(132) Early Learning and Care(2) Self Help Skills(1) Research Seminar(1) Prexit(1) Vietnam(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) supportive environments(2) Professionalisation(5) United Nations(1) Awards 2019(1) reopening ireland(1) journey(1) creche(1) Maynooth University(2) Pretend Play(1) Technology(3) Frosty the Snowman(1) Exit interview(1) lockdown(1) Love(3) environments(1) Cork(1) planning(1) UNICEF report(1) Investment(2) GDPR(1) Christmas Creativity(2) COVID-19(18) early childhood ireland research(1) Exclusion(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Change(1) Kids Own(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) experience(1) partnership(1) Large Doll Play(1) First 5(1) Celebrations(4) International Narratives(1) Upcycling(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Confident(1) CCTV(1) Interactions(3) education system(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Maths Week(1) Performing(1) First 5 transitions for children award(1) Imagination(3) GoToMeeting app(1) Positivity(1) INTO(1) Mo Scéal(1) School Age Childcare(2) Unesco(1) Care-giving routines(1) curriculum(7) Covid19 crisis(1) Maynooth(1) Thank you(1) Adverse Childhood Experiences(1) research submissions(1) annual conference(1) Children and families(2) memories(1) Time Out(1) San Miniato(4) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(2) Art(6) Kindness(1) COVID-19 landscape(1) Exercise(1) Sequins(1) Early Years Educators(3) Human Resources(1) Reggio Emilia(2) play pod(1) Siolta blog(8) Decisions(1) AsIAm(2) Reflective Practice(1) play stories(2) Penguins(1) Opportunities(1) Trigonometry(1) COVID-19 Reopening(2) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) Photographs(1) Empathy(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) built environments(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Learning through Storytelling(2) purpose(1) art of the relationship(1) Growing up Outdoors(2) Mayo(1) Reading Time(2) TUSLA(1) Leadership for INClusion in the Early Years(1) MA(1) Family(1) SPICE Framework(1) Facebook(1) Online(1) EECERA(1) ECCE(7) Training(3) playleader(1) Sessional service(1) Pobal sector profile(1) linc(1) Summer(2) Child Care(1) annual awards(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) National Annual Awards 2020(1) an post(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(2) early years research(3) budget(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Engineering Ireland(1) Rituals(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Fabric(1) Meet the Members(1) learners(1) online training(1) stories(3) Mixed age groups(3) risk(2) Mud kitchens(1) quarantine kids(1) upskilling(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Ceremony(1) Environment(2) ReCreate(2) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(2) TRAP(1) Magda Gerber(1) phone apps(1) Bereavement(2) life long learning(1) Budget 2018(1) peer group(1) Early Years Education(1) Independence(1) social media policy(1) Covid-19 lockdown(1) Learning Story Awards(2) quarantine(2) Administrative Burden(1) Youtube Series(1) Croatia(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(2) Sweets(1) Storytelling(8) worldbookday(1) Europe(1) Academic Skills(1) Proceedings Journal(1) Confidence(1) Twitter(1) Visitors(1) Painting(1) blog(56) code of professional responsibility(1) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Event Guide(1) Trick or treat(1) books(5) Return to Work(1) Engagement(1) ELC(1) Kilkenny(1) Games(2) Children's Book Club(1) children’s learning(1) Potential(1) Music(3) Digital(1) Communications(1) baby room(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Sport(1) primary education(1) Routines(2) Reggio(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Whole Group(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Self-Esteem(1) Counting(1) Drawing(2) Oireachtas(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Loving Relationships(2) guardian(1) Scents(1) Regulation 23(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Anxiety(2) Wendy Lee(4) Sustainable(1) pablo(1) Favouritism(1) Through the looking glass(1) Mealtimes(1) research(8) Recycle(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) development(9) University(1) EECERA 2016(1) Window(1) World Health Organisation(1) Exploratory Play(1) child-centred approach(1) Funding(1) Snacks(1) Halloween(2) relationships(18) Irish(1) Online Research Symposium(3) Cork Institute of Technology(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Mark Twain(1) Party(1) The Jelly King(1) Queues(1) TOY Programme(1) Diversity(1) animals(2) conversations(1) Wesco(1) Interaction(1) Quality(4) SAC(1) child led(1) respect(5) show and tell(1) Arlene Forster(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Hand Hygiene(2) eating(1) risky play(2) Gratitude(1) Afghanistan(1) family time(1) preschool settings(1) Plastic(1) Fantasy play(1) Building Resilience(1) early childhood(1) Snack Time(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Design(1) reopening(1) Children's Research Network(2) Arts(1) Stress(2) Sociodramatic play(1) STEM(3) Children's Rights(3) natural environment(1) Thinking(1) Obesity(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Pre-School Services(1) Story(2) Inspirational(2) Iraq(1) ICBN(1) Budget 2019(2) early year’s classrooms(1) The Play and Learning in the Early Years(1) Inspections(1) Belonging(3) Magnavacchi(1) Budget 2020(1) trust(4) Loss(1) Leprechauns(1) under 3's(3) developing motor skills(1) preschool(4) Running(1) early life(1) Participation(2) dining(1) reading(6) Limerick(1) Looking Back(1) Looking Forward(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Time(1) Norway(2) Family wall(1) democratic citizens(1) transitions(10) feisty(1) imotion(1) christmas(9) Margy Whalley(1) European Early Childhood Education Research Association(2) partnership with families(1) Smiles(1) continual professional development(1) emotions(2) Autism(4) childcare services(1) Leargas(1) World book day(1) Frustrations(1) ECEC(4) IGL(1) Children(8) outdoors(4) Mathematicians(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Workforce(1) QRF(1) educarer(1) listen(1) Gardening(1) coronavirus(1) Maths(6) Culture(2) Biting(1) Scéalta Blog(106) routine(2) Social Skills(1) MECPI(1) play pods(2) value(1) Pedagogical leaders(1) Nonverbal(1) apps for children(1) Mount Everest(1) Employee(1) worries(1) Pen green(1) parents(7) Child mental health(1) grandchild(1) Death(2) Educator of the Year Award(3) gender stereotype(1) Engineers Week(2) UK(1) Patterns(1) Inspired Practice Award(6) Shoes(1) june29(1) Arithmetic(1) ECEC Setting(2) DES Inspection(1) Graduate(1) Super Shed Stories(2) Irish guidelines(1) Winter(1) RTE Investigates(1) story time(2) Childcare(3) Flowers(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Care routines(1) early years settings(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Celebrate(1) Leadership(1) Creativity(7) Reopening Childcare(1) staying connected(1) educating(1) Elders(1) Valentine's Day(3) Titles(1) Trade Unions(1) structure(1) Competent(1) Fee Play(1) Rich Documentation(1) racism(1) Health(2) bloom app(1) movement behaviours(1) Buddies(1) keezy(1) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) women in research(1) Awards 2018(3) babies(7) InspireMe.ie(1) democracy(1) maternity health(1) Nordic model(1) Síolta(139) child safeguarding(1) Workplace well-being(1) UD(1) Fire Safety(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Return to Work Training(1) Brain(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) HR(1) science(3) Together Old and Young Programme(1) Meal time(1) Socioemotional development(1) Policy(2) scéalta(58) dining experiences(1) Glitter(2) role playing(1) mushrooms(1) Universal Design Guidelines(1) learning(19) outdoor play(7) play(37) National Awards 2018(2) child-centric(1) collaboration(1) Albert Einstein(1) Vertical grouping(1) Masterclass(2) Workplace Relations(3) Aistear Siolta in Action(1) Mental Health(4) Trauma-Sensitive(1) Yoga(1) Consent(1) CPD(1) aistear blog(3) Snakes(1) Mantra(1) Capable(1) COVID(3) Learning Story(1) UN(1) Cognitive development(1) Thanks(1) Craft(1) outdoor space(3) Women(1) awards 2020(1) Xbox(1) Traditions(2) Affordability(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Treasure Chest(1) behavioural science(1) Infectious diseases(1) Behaviour(3) Anthony Semann(1) Playschool(1) Little Buddies(1) Iceland(2) Impact(1) Recycling(2) code of ethics(1) National Holiday(1) DCYA(6) Staff Motivation(1) listening(1) Jenga(1) Effect of Lockdown(1) healthy eating policies(1) documentation(4) Early Childhood Ireland(10) PIP(1) Community involvement(1) Universal Design(2) New Appointments(1) Eritrea(1) Light table(1) preschools(1) Decision Making(1) Inter-generational(2) scientific and artistic processes(1) Liz Kerrins(1) curiosity(3) Engineering(3) Well-Being(10) Ariana Pucci(1) Síolta QAP(1) children development(1) Interests(1) Awards(2) education(2) Home Corner(1) Orla Kenny(1) Pedagogy(2) NCCA(4) UK Government(1) Identity and Belonging(4) emotional environment(2) Wrapping paper(1) Document Learning(1) Nutrition(1) Montessori(3) homeschool(1) Treasure(1) Advocacy(1) Visual Impairment(1) Laughter(1) Appreciation(1) Inspired Practice Awards(1) Your place(1) Motor neuron disease(1) emotional well-being(1) Settling in(4) Shapes(2) Learning journals(1) Kerry(1) Body Language(1) Builders(1) Grief(1) National Early Childhood Research Conference(2) Adoption(1) Feeding(1) Buddy Bench(1) Role play(1) Our Little Seed(1) First 5 strategy(1) Equality(1) Maria Montessori(1) Childhood(2) presentation skills(1) Primary School(3) Communicating(1) Exploring(1) pets(1) CIT(1) Self-regulation(1) NAEYC(1) play therapy(1) RIE philosphy(1) Supernanny(1) conference(1) Children's Voice(1) EM Standing(1) Traffic Lights(1) Inspiring Practice(1) Names(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Small World Play(1) timekeeping skills(1) Early Years(1) Learning Journal(2) Book Club(2) inspiring interactions(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) learning hub(2) National Awards 2019(1) Performance Management(1) Identity(5) Intention(1) meals(3) food(1) Magic(1) National Research Conference 2019(1) European Project(1) Dance(1) Seanchaí(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) man up(1) overhear(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Digital Devices(1) Teamwork(1) toddlers(3) dogs(1) Line-ups(1) Breathing(2) Rising to the Challenge(2) outdoor environment(1) Learning Stories(9) Certificate(1) National Childcare Scheme(1) Japan(1) Skillnet(1) Touch(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) E.coli(1) Support(1) ECIAwards20(1) Maternity Leave(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Map(1) friendships(1) Sculptures(1) Easter(1) Weather(1) learning bias(1) STEAM(1) Creative(1) risk assessment(1) Sleep(1) community(5) Challenges(1) Wonder(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Playdough(1) social science(1) Blocks(1) Qualifications(1) Book Review(1) Syria(1) Spiders(1) bonds(1) ears(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Study Trip(1) Inclusion(3) Early Childhood Education(1) Graduation(1) AIM(2) Pobal(1) Laugh(1) responsive relationships(1) Trade union(1) Horizon 2020(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Seas Suas(1) iOS(1) keep in touch(1) ERASMUS+(3) Kindness Challenge(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) youdoodle(1) Awards Night(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) Academics(1) interacting(2) Malaguzzi(1) Covid pandemic(3) Relaxation(1) Italy(1) Inter-generational learning(2) social media(2) gender bias(1) communication(4) UNCRC(2) Sustainability(3) Educators(2) Mindfulness(3) science week(2) St. Patrick's Day(1) multi-generational community(1) COVID-19 crisis(1) Plants(1) mental health problems(1) Santa(2) Degree(1) Giraffe(2) early years learning(1) Wilenski(1) dublin(2)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine