Sunday, 6 April 2008

Can you spare a dime?

Or business as usual?

Readers of Conductive Education World will recall the heartening words of support from across all parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly in the debate of 19 February – and the responsible Minister’s stonewalling response.

The occasion for the Assembly debate was Buddy Bear’s very public cri de coeur that without Government intervention it would be forced to close at the end of the coming summer term.

Assembly Member George Savage’s contribution to this debate were reported in small-town local newspapers in the Trust’s immediate area but regional newspapers and other media, like the august Belfast Telegraph, which has reported controversy and crisis enough around Buddy Bear, kept shtum. There has been no official reponse in the public domain. Summer is getting ever closer.

There is to be a coffee morning on 8 April to help raise money in support of the centre, and a local pop concert in June.

Meanwhile, on the United States’ West Coast, one of America’s longest-established CE centres, Begsteps (Beginning Steps to Independence), has been reported facing a cash crisis by an enthusiastic supporter, who had been very moved by the skill and devotion of the veterinarian, who treated a terminally ill family pet. The veterinarian has a two-year-old daughter with hypotonia who started attending Beginning Steps to Independence two months ago:

At the moment, Beginning Steps to Independence school is in great need for donations to keep the school running and accommodate more students. The highly trained staff (many of whom are from Hungary), as well as the parents and children, are highly motivated and very enthusiastic to keep the school open, and even to expand it. They need to raise a minimum of $100,000 over the next couple of months. In addition to the obvious need for money, they need help from attorneys specializing in non-profit organizations, people with a background in accounting and finance, and other volunteer activities.

Julie Starling of Wild Dingo has made a personal donation towards the sum needed, which is being matched by her partner’s company. Being inter alia a website designer, she has extended her appeal out to the Internet.

Oh yes, and do you recall the suspension of the research study planned at the Conductive Education Centre in Grand Rapids MI, by the Department of Epidemiology at Michigan University? This was because of state-level budget cuts,

Has something started?

Almost since the start of the internationalisation of Conductive Education, with very rare exceptions the movement has been extended and maintained against a background of financial shortage, amounting at times to near penury. It could be argued that families and institutions who have managed to win something of what they wanted in such economic circumstances are lean, fit and well suited to survive today’s (and tomorrow’s) recessionary forces. Contrarily perhaps, one might say that an undercapitalised world movement and over-extended, so much of which exists on the every margins of financial viability, should anticipate significant slimming down in its activities.

A coffee morning? In the face of possibly immanent world recession? When so much money is squandered on potentially counter-effective professional activity around disabled children and their families, are coffee mornings the ultimate symbol of the cruel absurdity of the present situation of the greatest conceptual breakthrough in the care and welfare of the motor disordered and their families?

Notes and references

Buddy Bear

Wild Dingo appeal

Michigan research project

Previous item on CE and recession

Buddy, can you spare a dime?
A theme tune for the Great Recession

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