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Cindy Corrie: The Sycamore School: Westfield Local Heroes 2018

The parents who started a school to improve their son's future

Cindy Corrie only ever wanted to find a school where her son would be happy and supported through his autism.

But finding no such school in her area, she decided that the best thing to do would to start her own. So, with her husband, Cameron, Cindy founded The Sycamore School in Alexandra Hills, Queensland, to specialise in educating children with autism.

Its mission is to change predicted futures of children with autism by building independence through self-awareness, learning, and developing their strengths.

"Our son and many children like him have incredible skills, but they are often unsupported in working on key goals and challenges, so they don't get the opportunity to do their best," says Cindy.

“At The Sycamore School, we want to foster autism-friendly learning, which means working on communication, social skills, flexible thinking, behaviour and all the things that can impact a child's opportunity to engage with education," she says.

Now in its second year of operation, the school has 62 students from across Brisbane, aged from prep through to Year 6.

Importantly, each student is encouraged to understand themselves and recognise what makes them unique, Cindy says.

“Kids who were never getting invited to birthday parties are now making friends and going to sleepovers. As families develop connections with others who have kids on the spectrum it's creating a really special community."

Cindy says it's "very humbling" to be voted a Westfield Local Hero.

The Sycamore School have used the $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes Grant to fund STEM equipment. It is acknowledged that many people with autism have strong capabilities in technology and good computer skills. It is essential that the school implements a STEM program that will give its students the opportunity to develop skills required to obtain meaningful employment.

“Just about every child in the school is good with technology and we really think that many of them will be able to find work in scientific or IT jobs. So this is just another element of developing their skills," Cindy says.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here.

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