I am delighted to give you a glimpse into the extraordinary world of St. Vincent’s, a residential school in Liverpool dedicated to visually impaired (VI) young people. Here, kindness isn’t just a virtue; it’s a daily symphony played out in countless small acts woven into the very fabric of the school.
St. Vincent’s boasts a rich history and nearly two centuries of experience in understanding and nurturing VI individuals. Each child’s journey is unique, and their needs are meticulously addressed with specialized teaching methods. But the magic truly lies in the community itself.
‘Random ‘acts of kindness at St. Vincent’s in Liverpool, a residential specialist school for visually impaired (VI) young people, are a daily blessing to witness. It’s supported and embedded in the ‘common good’ ethos and across the taught creative and ‘enriched’ curriculum. With Liverpool having the first school for the blind in the world, and as far as any records reveal St Vincent’s being the first purpose-built school, nearly two hundred years of service has given a significant depth of knowledge in the field.
Understanding and adapting teaching and learning for VI young people takes some doing, as each individual’s eye condition and need is unique.
Herein lies the ‘core ‘of ‘kindness fostering’. As a school community, pupils know each other’s needs and visual abilities supporting each other daily. Unless you have worked with more VI pupils across various visual impairments, it’s hard to grasp the beauty of peer-to-peer kindness measured in the ‘little ‘acts that make significant impacts.
Knowing the person behind you is blind and holding the door, offering a ‘sighted guide’ to low vision on dark ( or bright ) corridors, and supporting each other’s mobility, learning, and independence demonstrates a level of care for others and a thoughtfulness we can all take lessons from. But it does not stop there.
Each Wednesday, pupils come off the National Curriculum for an ‘enriched’ input. Here, pupils choose from various activities, from gardening and ceramics to Taekwondo and from music making to cooking.
Here, pupils explore their creative strengths in areas they enjoy and feel confident in. From here, strengths are embedded in project-based learning, empowering students to engage those strengths in action, leading both their VI peers AND sighted peers from external schools (reverse inclusion). The ‘random acts of kindness’ expand in this step-wise fashion and magically in the ‘flipping of the narrative’ where VI children lead the sighted.
The attached reflection below adds some detail for a snapshot of the school, whereas the website links to several of the project-based learning activities that demonstrate and evidence the ‘enriched ‘curriculum in action. I have chosen the ‘Journey for Peace’, where pupils shared themed comics internationally celebrated through music and the ‘rewilding’ projects connected by ‘reclaim the green, reclaim the nature’. But it does not stop there.
The final link provided is the ‘lightbox’. A ‘toolkit’ for access to sports and education designed with the pupils has been shared across some 20 countries and funded by Rotary and Lions, including ‘ETBOX’ glasses for children with albinism.
Ongoing acts of kindness are connected through the curriculum to VI pupils worldwide. Martin Luther hoped for his children to be judged (and to give and receive kindness) on the contents of their character …..visually impaired pupils who see beyond all things are DOING and connecting with others in doing just that. They are the ‘seeds of hope’ in a troubled world.
If you wish to help us spread ‘seeds of hope’ kindness, you may find Visual Impairment: ‘Caring for yourself and Others’ Redemptorist a relevant topline read. OR! Perhaps you would collaborate with St Vincents and YOUR local Rotary or Lions to sponsor a Sightbox and ET box or, indeed……a VI young person from anywhere in the world to learn our ‘best practice kindness’ and return it to their community?
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see” – Mark Twain.
Conclusion: A Beacon of Kindness: St. Vincent’s in Liverpool
In the heart of Liverpool, amidst centuries of experience and vibrant creativity, lies St. Vincent’s – a testament to the extraordinary power of kindness. Here, visually impaired young people not only receive support but become beacons of empathy, leading the way in inclusivity and global impact.
Remember, the greatest acts of kindness often begin with the smallest steps. Be inspired by St. Vincent’s story, share this message with others, and join us in planting the seeds of hope for a brighter, more caring tomorrow.
Together, we can ensure that kindness knows no bounds, just like the potential of every remarkable young individual at St. Vincent’s.
Dr John A Patterson BEd (Hons) QTVI, MSC, PhD
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