On Sunday 23 June, the Schools hosted the 2019 Habs Mencap Funday, which was organised by a committee of 12 Lower Sixth and Year 11 boys, and four Lower Sixth girls from the Girls’ School.
Around 250 student volunteers from both Schools looked after our guests, children between the ages of 5 and 19 with mental and physical disabilities. 121 children were registered to attend. We were supported by around 50 colleagues from both schools. We are extremely grateful for the generous donation from Girls’ School parents, Mr and Mrs Cohn, through their company, Angle Consulting Limited.
Each child was looked after by two, sometimes three students, depending on the need of care. The children were then able to participate in various games, arts and crafts, football, or simply enjoy the open spaces. Further attractions included face painting, teacup ride, bouncy castles, petting animals (including a snake and an owl) and even professional magic shows from an Old Boy, Chris McGeever (OH 2006). Each of these activities were led by other student volunteers.
The work of our boys and girls was a sight to behold. From the moment the guest families arrived, they were welcomed with warmth, smiles and care by our students. It is difficult to exaggerate the maturity that the students display, with which they took charge of the day and, importantly, with which they support each other.
The event this year stood out for two reasons, firstly both Schools worked incredibly well together. We hope that the Mencap Funday may blaze a trail for more and closer co-operation between the schools in the organisation of such outreach events. The work of our Committee therefore had a pioneering function in forming a group of students who work well together, and a structure through which they can collaborate on genuinely equal terms. It was a privilege to support the students as they worked together and without fail supported each other.
Secondly, this year Habs renewed links with Mencap via their Barnet office who provided generous support to the Funday, most importantly through Carole Dukes, the Mencap Barnet Engagement and Gateway Co-ordinator. All volunteers therefore received formal training on how to work with children with special needs. In addition, the Schools were able to advertise the event via the Mencap mailing list, which allowed us to reach a slightly wider audience than last year. As a wonderful consequence, we welcomed many a new, and more diverse, group of guests. This meant that the day was busier, but it allowed our student volunteers to shine as they took these challenges in their stride and welcomed the children with joy and without prejudice.
Many of the guests’ parents tell us that the day is one of the very highlights of the year for their families, one that both children and parents look forward to for weeks and weeks. The Schools have already received several emails from this year’s guests and there are many quotes to choose from. However, perhaps two quotes sum it up adequately:
“I cannot thank you enough for a most enjoyable day. My son, who is 13, is home-schooled until a special needs provision becomes available. He is obviously very isolated and the opportunity to chat and spend time with the two volunteers that were assigned to him, was invaluable experience for him. He told me a number of times ‘it was fun.’”
And, from another parent:
“Your care and thought are appreciated more than you can begin to imagine.”
Like last year, Habs would very much like to ask that, once it’s confirmed, mark next year’s Funday in your calendar, do join us to witness the work of the students and the joy experienced by the families that attend our Mencap Fundays.
Habs would like to thank the Mencap Committee and Mr Raatz for organising such a wonderful event and congratulate them on all their hard work.
Krish (co-Chair) - L6R2
Imran (co-Chair) - L6R1
Jack (co-Chair designate) - 11H2
Ahan (co-Chair designate) - 11R2
Jasper - L6H1
Yohaan - L6C2
Zuhayr - L6M2
Arman - L6S1
Raunak - L6R2
Neal - L6H2
Sharad - L6S1
Manav - L6M1
Sophie - Girls' School
Millie - Girls' School
Ilona - Girls' School
Anushka - Girls' School