A GROUP of American students swapped life in New York to help care for disabled pupils in West Yorkshire.
Eight students and two tutors travelled from Nazareth College in Rochester – New York state – to gain experience of care and education at the Hollybank Trust, Mirfield.
The students spent time with both pupils and residents at the Trust – who all have profound and complex physical and learning disabilities.
They saw how learning programmes at the school and within the adult service on Far Common Road, were geared towards pupils’ and residents’ abilities rather than their disabilities.
The young people – who are all studying speech and language therapy, psychology or education – took part in various activities, including school lessons in the sensory room, speech and language therapy sessions, hydrotherapy and rebound trampoline therapy.
They also took some adults sailing in Otley.
Craig Hill, dean of the School of Education at Nazareth College, said: “This is my third visit to Hollybank. I’m very impressed with the facilities and the range of different activities here.
“It’s a real model of support for individuals with significant disabilities. We are very well looked after here.”
The students were interested in the relationship between the teachers and pupils, and the staff and residents, which enables them to flourish and fulfil their potential.
Kristi Marcera, 22, said: “I am impressed with how close the staff are to the pupils and can understand them just from a blink. They know if they are happy and how they each communicate.
“It’s a beautiful thing to witness.”
They also saw how Hollybank’s pupils and adults benefit from various therapies and activities on site, as well as the latest technologies.
They use iMuse, which enables those with limited movement to create sound art by making tiny movements using advanced keyboard technology.
Education student Lyndsey Montstream, 21, said: “Overall the technology is amazing. We don’t have that at all, such as the iMuse and the sensory room. You are taking it to the next level.
“We would be able to implement it now we have seen how much you can do. The students really come alive with the iMuse and the art they produce gives you a sense of what they are feeling.”
This is the third year running that students from Nazareth College have gained experience at Hollybank, through its partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University.
Alison Howard, head of residential services, helped forge the links with Nazareth College.
She said: “Hollybank Trust never fails to impress and delight our American visitors which is wonderful. We are so pleased we can give them a taste of what we offer all our pupils and residents, especially our person-centred approach which is key to our organisation.
“We are proud that they are taking back best practise with them and inspire them to try similar methods in the US.”