Chlöe 480 Children that you say you identify with: NEED YOUR HELP!!

Dear Chlöe Swarbrick

I found this article interesting as it is about the type of student I have dedicated my life to working with. Highlights for me were:

  • [Chlöe Swarbrick] the MP, known for tackling prickly topics in Parliament, brought the same energy last month when she first shared her adult ADHD diagnosis. In doing so, she used her platform to highlight the issues many with neurodiversity face in getting a diagnosis.
  • Swarbrick speaks on the New Zealand Herald about her ADHD journey and why things need to change. This began after years of grappling with depression, when she says it felt as though something was coming unstuck and had to give.
  • Retrospectively, she puts this down to her “masking” her symptoms. This concept is common with women who have ADHD and describes when neurodiverse people try to cover up their symptoms by copying the behaviour of neurotypical people to fit into the “neurotypical” world.
  • “If, as a younger woman like myself, you were sat in a corner trying to read something but you were reading the page 100 times over and absorbing none of that information. You fit the bill of someone that looks studious but, you know, nobody’s necessarily seeing the things that are going through your brain.”
  • Throughout her first few years at school Swarbrick says she was relatively decent, but she says the wheels “fell off” in her later years. Had she known more about ADHD back then she says she would have arranged things differently and had a higher level of wellbeing.
  • Getting a diagnosis can end up becoming a “really expensive” process … “That lack of formal diagnosis then stands in the way of, and is a barrier to, what for some people is massively helpful medication.”
  • Part of the reason she decided to participate in the conversation surrounding ADHD is because of the privilege she holds as an MP. “I have a job to do as a representative that I take really seriously.
  • “Not only are her solutions quite different, she’s quite focused on them as well, so I think it helps make her a politician of the future. She’s not a normal politician.” “Having a role model like that is just massive. Oh goodness, it’s a little bit emotional when you think how brave Chlöe is, full stop. I think having a role model who isn’t the stereotype also really shakes it up in a useful way.”
  • “There’s a big conversation to be had about how we can recognise it in a way that’s helpful and how we can validate people’s experience in a useful way. I think Chlöe’s probably done a great job of starting that in a really positive way.”
  • ADHD affects 2 to 5 per cent of all children.

Here is the kicker though!

As you are aware, Chlöe, we have twice applied for a 480 students Designated Character School (non-zoned) for Neuro-Diverse learners in or near your electorate but available to Year 7 – 13 students from across Auckland. Many of the students who come to the school with be Maori and Pasifika and low decile. It would be called the Mt Hobson Academy.

We have shown significant demand and the ability to deliver in our applications. Students from the private version of this school (Mt Hobson Middle School) have been deeply cared for and have gone onto NCEA Level 1 at 96%, UE at 69% and many have found their adult niche – like you have.

In turning us down the Minister/Ministry had tried to say that neuro-diverse are fully cared for in ordinary State schools. However, in Parliament last week Jan Tinetti told the House that there are as many as 80,000 of children with needs being under-cared for in our education system. We are supported in our application by many families and organisations such as Autism NZ.

Your article notes there could be a many as 5% of children with ADHD. Add to this children with high anxiety, dyslexia, FAS, experiences of violence and other trauma in the home …

The 480 children per year we can help with our superb professionals and teaching staff need your help. Minister Hipkins has refused to meet with us for four years. You have stated to me that you are hesitant to help as I had been critical of some Green Party policies! It is not about me. Please see your way past that.

This school is desperately needed. You can make it happen. Please help. Turn your informed sympathy to practical empathy.

There is already a superbly funded “Green School” that you guys funded in Taranaki, with 72 students (60 Euro, 7 International, 3 Maori) so that name is taken. We could call ours “Swarbrick School” if it would help. Everyone needs a legacy.

Alwyn Poole

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