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Scotland’s leading health, education, research and charity professionals gathered at Holyrood last night (Tuesday, September 30th, 2014) for a reception hosted by the Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments marking the eve of the global awareness day for Cerebral Palsy. Message Matters’ client, the SCCMI is Scotland’s national specialist centre for integrated education and therapy services for children with cerebral palsy and similar neurological conditions, based at the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld, serving all of Scotland’s local authorities.

At last night’s event staff and children and young people who attend the Centre met with MSPs and guests, and enjoyed sporting displays from Molly Williamson, 14, from Falkirk, who is a member of Lothian Phoenix Wheelchair Basketball squad and from Georgie Williams, 18, from Perthshire, who is a BC3 (very severe physical disability) player in the Scotland Boccia Squad. The displays of sporting prowess in their chosen fields illustrated the achievements of the national Centre in helping children achieve levels of independence and skill in life.

17 million people are affected by cerebral palsy around the world. World Cerebral Palsy Day is a global awareness and innovation project aiming to change the world for people with cerebral palsy (CP). It is designed to gather ideas from people living with CP and their supporters, and to make the best of those ideas a reality. The first global awareness day was held in 2012. Over 470 ideas were received that year and three were shortlisted in a global competition to prototype them. A solar powered wheelchair was the first winner, proposed by a man with CP in Turkey and developed by the University of Virginia. The day is backed by disability organisations in over 46 countries, who come together to place an international spotlight on CP.

The SCCMI is a Grant Aided Special School funded directly by the Scottish Government to provide specialist and high quality integrated therapy and education for children and young people affected by cerebral palsy and similar neurological conditions from all parts of Scotland. SCCMI has a specific and specialist focus on children affected by neurological conditions and holds the view that children with cerebral palsy and related neurological conditions require a focused and specialist environment within which their needs can be addressed, their abilities can be developed and within which they can progress and flourish.

Operating within a specially designed and high quality facility at the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld, the SCCMI’s staff work in tightly knit teams, which include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and teachers, who work in an integrated, collaborative manner to enable children and young people to maximise their abilities, achieve their full potential and develop their greatest level of independence.

Chief Executive of the Centre, Professor Patrick Salter, said:

“As a national centre in Scotland the SCCMI embodies the aspirations of World Cerebral Palsy Day and we are very proud to be showcasing our work at the Scottish Parliament on such an important occasion. At SCCMI we believe all children and young people have the capacity for progress and that the focus on a child with additional support needs should be on his/her achievement, progress and potential realisation, rather than on their difficulties. This means our focus is on what they can do, rather than what they cannot do.

“Our specialist staff work collaboratively, providing integrated education and therapy for children from nursery age through to teenagers up to 19 years of age. Our facilities include a hydrotherapy pool and sensory room, which contribute to the well-being and ambitions of our children as we seek to aid them with their education, movement and communication. We hope tonight’s reception will lead to greater recognition of Scotland’s cerebral palsy care needs and the potential for a national approach to the provision of care and education.”