London Colney teenager's dyslexic journey

PUBLISHED: 11:56 05 June 2010

Leon Rose coping with dyslexia.

Leon Rose coping with dyslexia.

Archant

A BRAVE teenager who struggled at school has learnt to embrace his dyslexia.

Leon Rose, 15, who lives in London Colney, was at “rock bottom” for most of his secondary school life because his dyslexia, which manifested itself when he was six years old, prevented him from absorbing new knowledge at the same rate as his fellow pupils.

Leon, who despite his mother Lesley’s efforts cannot secure a statement of special educational needs, said that there was no funding available for him at school: “I had funding in Years 6 and 7, which meant that I had teaching assistants who really helped.

No funding

“But by Year 8, the funding had gone and I just sank back into the system. I did get on with a couple of my teachers, but I found that most of them didn’t understand what I was going through.”

From the ages of eight to 10, Leon attended NatureKids – a centre which provides home-from-home schooling for a wide variety of children – once a week, but stopped going when NatureKids, headed by ex-teacher Felicity Evans, moved from its St Albans base to Essendon.

Felicity said that it was a chance phone call that put her back in touch with Leon: “I rang to see if Leon wanted to come and meet one of his old friends and was greeted by a very concerned Lesley.

“Leon was not doing well and his problems had escalated to an extreme degree, so Lesley and I agreed that Leon should come back to NatureKids as soon as possible.”

Leon, who no longer attends his St Albans secondary school. has been going to NatureKids two or three times a week for the past two school half terms.

He said that the mentoring he received there had helped him develop as a person: “I used to be a very violent and angry person and I didn’t care about anything.

“But now I’d describe myself as happy, cheerful, calmer and much easier to get along with.”

He added: “Being at school didn’t suit me. I wanted to learn but my dyslexia stopped me from understanding.

“But my NatureKids mentors, Jon and Dan, really connect with me on my level and they are not at all patronising.”

Felicity, who said that Leon was a very intelligent young man, aims to get him up to the necessary level of understanding so that he can sit his GCSEs.

“In many cases children like Leon are not receiving the support that they need, because their needs fall between education and health,” she said.

“We are running a school-type system of the future and one that is specifically there for children like Leon.”

Leon, who dreams of becoming a computer graphics designer, said that he has finally learnt to come to terms with his dyslexia: “It’s been a long journey but I know now that there are some positives to dyslexia!

“I see things in 3D and instinctively know how people are feeling.

“I want to tell dyslexic children like me about NatureKids and, by sharing my story, I hope to inspire other kids into feeling proud about their talents, not ashamed of their dyslexia.”

Charitable donations

NatureKids relies to a great extent on funds from charitable donors such as friend of the centre Marc Thompson, who has donated thousands of pounds, and Felicity’s son Iestyn Evans, a designer who made the most of his dyslexia.

“I was pleased to sponsor Leon because I know what it is like to be a dyslexic child,” said Iestyn.

“But the same qualities that made things difficult in school back then are now vital for my 3D work today.

“I am pleased to support Leon and other dyslexic children in finding their individual passions and reaching their potential.”

To read Leon’s blog, visit http://thebestuwant2be.squarespace.com and to find out more about NatureKids, log on to www.naturekids.co.uk

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