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National Star up for national award today
National Star will hear today (July 2) if it is a winner in this year’s Natspec Awards for its work with young people with complex disabilities and learning difficulties.
The national charity, based in Ullenwood, Gloucestershire, has been shortlisted in two categories: Innovative Use of Technology and Inter-disciplinary Working.
The Innovative Use of Technology shortlisting recognises National Star’s Find My Voice campaign. About 6,000 young people nationally depend on Alternative Augmented Communication (AAC) aids to communicate.
At National Star, 22 per cent of students use a communication device, but they do not allow for a personalised voice that reflects personality or upbringing. In response, National Star launched a nationwide search for suitable voice donors and paid for the recordings.
In seven months, seven young people at National Star took part in the project, choosing the voice they felt best suited them.
For the first time, they were able to use their voice to express a sense of self and to experience a sense of ‘belonging’ within their own communities.
The students said that their new voice gave them a sense of self-worth and increased their confidence and willingness to use their device. They engaged verbally with learning activities, increasing their confidence to interact with others and thereby gaining a range of skills, which will benefit them throughout their lives.
Shortlisting for the second category, Inter-disciplinary Working, reflects National Star’s holistic, person-centred curriculum, whereby education, therapy and residential teams work closely together to improve outcomes for students and provide a consistent approach across all aspects of delivery.
The Natspec Awards aim to recognise and celebrate excellent practice in the specialist further education sector.