Words by Smiley Team
Lockdown gave some people to sit down and reflect on their lives and where they wanted to go.
And for Jo Aiyathurai, it gave her the beginnings of a brand-new charity supporting those with Down's syndrome: Learn and Thrive.
"It came from an idea in lockdown when children were missing Early Years settings and school," says Jo. "A local Down’s syndrome charity in Kent, 21 Together and specialist Down’s syndrome education provider Inclusively Down came together with the idea of producing educational videos for children at home.
"They were so popular that people all over the country were requesting them and funding was received to set up a national charity."
“We are so excited that we can now offer these bespoke free resources to all young people in the UK," said Jo. "Our vision is that every child and young person, regardless of background, income, or family situation deserves access to education materials that meet their needs. For too long access has mainly been available to those that can pay for it.”
The charity’s success and quick growth is down to generous donations from its many supporters, a National Lottery Community Fund grant and corporate backing from Quality Compliance Systems (QCS).
Nikki Walker, CEO of QCS and Chair of Trustees for Learn and Thrive said: “When I first met with Jo and her team, what really shone through was a passion and determination to make this game-changing learning resource universally available to every young person with Down’s syndrome. I’m extremely proud to chair a dedicated team of trustees who all want to help empower the Down’s syndrome community.”
The website contains a library of free educational resources. There are two projects, one for both early years and key stage 1 called Teach Me Too and the second for primary and secondary called Learning for Life which are created by the charity and their highly specialist partners.
They are designed to be used either in schools or at home and contain teaching videos and resource packs to assist learning.
Sheryl, who previewed the resources with her son Jake, aged 16, who has Down’s syndrome, said: “The ‘Growing Up and Keeping Safe’ videos and resources are absolutely brilliant. They are really high-quality and so engaging.
"My son Jake and I enjoyed watching them together and the content really clicked with him. The resources are very visual and presented in a clear and straightforward way, making them accessible to young people with Down’s syndrome."
DONATE: You can support Learn and Thrive and donate through their website.
GET INVOLVED: Find out more about Learn and Thrive's work and see how you can get involved.