My name is Callum Flanagan and I am big brother to Richard and Anna Flanagan. I was 4 years old when Richard was born and he turned my world upside down but I loved the bones of him from the very start.
When we went to the hospital after he was born, mammy was there and there was a cot but no baby, only a photo. I couldn’t wait to have a little brother to play football with, and to teach him all the things I knew.
We were at home a lot because Richard was too sick to travel or go anywhere. We missed out on years of going places as a full family, but it was great to have Richard at home. Richard was 3 when he started going to ChildVision and we could see an improvement from the get-go. Richard’s confidence was growing all the time and he began to include himself more and more in family activities but was still very sick at times and was in and out of hospital regularly. Thanks to our Aunty Jo we got to get away a couple of times and we really enjoyed it, but I always felt a little sad too because Richard wasn’t with us and sometimes I wondered how he was and what he was doing.
So I was over the moon when Mam told us about ChildVision’s respite weekend because for the first time ever Richard could come with us. We were so excited travelling we took a wrong turn and ended up driving down a lane and Dad got chased by a donkey when he opened a gate to turn. When we finally got there we were greeted by Richard’s nurse for the weekend. All of the staff from the preschool was there, Richard was very happy to see them and so were Mam and Dad as they knew Richard was in great care. The weekend was brilliant because Richard was not just being minded but was totally included in the holiday. The weekend taught us that we weren’t the only family going through this, and it made us feel a little more normal.
Richard discovered horse riding thanks to Audrey at ChildVision, he put up a huge struggle before he got on the horse but then discovered that he really enjoyed it and put up an even bigger struggle when his session was over. Horse- riding has really improved his core strength. Mam attended swimming lessons in the ChildVision pool specifically designed for children with complex needs and now swimming is one of Richard’s favorite pastimes. He even had a pool party for his first holy communion.
There is always a warm welcome for us in ChildVision, they continue to see the potential in Richard and help him to become the best that he can possibly be. I hope that ChildVision can continue to help families in the way that they have helped us and I would like to thank everyone in ChildVision for helping Richard to become the person that he is today. I know that he will continue to grow and learn under their professional care and guidance.