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Health & Wellbeing

Crawley school girl supported by Phones4U billionaire after writing book about Autism

A book aimed at teaching young children about autism has been written by 12 year old Sienna.

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A Crawley school girl has received the support of a billionaire after she wrote a book aimed at young children so they could understand more about autism.

12-year-old Sienna Manuel has wrote the book in collaboration with author Charlotte Olson. The aim of the book is to teach primary school children about fellow peers with Autism.

Phones4U billionaire and philanthropist, John Caudwell, has agreed to fund the distribution of the book to every primary school in the UK.

Sienna wrote to John in February 2018 to secure his support, and 25,000 schools are set to receive the book thanks to his motivation to raise awareness of Autism.

John Caudwell speaking at the book launch is supporting Sienna and the book.

Sienna attends St Wilfrid’s school in Crawley and a very proud headmaster, Mr Michael Ferry, was there to show the schools support.

He said:

“It’s amazing. She is a phenomenal young lady, and to think she is only in year 7 now and she is doing all this work.  She is a massive role model.  She seizes every opportunity and I know she is going to a be a star in the future.”

After her own brother was diagnosed with Autism, Sienna became increasingly aware that her brother was often misunderstood. Quirky sounds and behaviors on the playground or in assembly made him different and often stand out.

70% of children with autism are educated in mainstreams schools with a continued increase every year. It is also estimated that 60% of children with autism are bullied at mainstreams schools.

Sienna who is a Diana Anti-Bullying Ambassador wants to help create a change through her book.

She said “I want little children growing up in a world which teaches them to embrace difference. My brother has taught me so much and is a wonderful friend. Children like my brother just need to be given a chance”.

Last year charities, schools and parents campaigned for autism teacher training with a successful outcome. It was announced that autism will be now part of the core learning for teachers as part of their initial training from 2018.

Autism can present serious learning difficulties and there have been worries that children aren’t understood and supported properly by teachers who receive ‘patchy training’.

A NASUWT survey revealed six in ten teachers said they hadn’t been given the training required to teach autistic children.

Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, said:

“More than 1 in 100 children are on the autism spectrum, and over 70 per cent go to mainstream schools, so every teacher will teach autistic students during their careers. Yet, autism training has historically not been mandatory for teachers, and some start school with no special educational needs training at all.”

The book hopes to support both primary school teachers and children to understand the disorder better and reduce bullying whilst promoting inclusiveness.

The launch also hopes to celebrate siblings often living in stressful family environments and who are sometimes forced to take a step back. Shining a spotlight on the wonderful work they do and contribution they make to their families and siblings.

‘Learning about Autism with Suzie and Cruzie’ features Sienna’s brother and was officially launched on 30th April 2018 hosted by sponsors Gatwick Hilton Hotel.

Sienna who dances for Pineapple Performing Arts in Covent Garden performed with local primary school children and fellow dance students to remind everyone that Autism Awareness isn’t just for one month.

Hosted on the last day of April and sending out over 25,000 books to schools across the UK, the powerful message of kindness and friendship will continue in schools for years to come.

The author and team members were supported by River Island and wore River Island’s Labels are for Clothes t-shirts from their recent campaign that champions diversity.

£3 from each t-shirt sale is donated to Ditch the Label, a leading international anti-bullying charity. River Island has a long history of empowering people through fashion and self-expression and are proud to unite in the conversation surrounding disabilities, offering their support to empowering children everywhere.

Health & Wellbeing

Crawley vegan loses over 4 stone after joining Broadfield Weight Watchers

After deciding enough is enough, Geri joined Weight Watchers as a vegan and lost 64 and a half pounds.

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Geri Maloney from Broadfield lost 64 and a half pounds after joining Weight Watchers and going vegan.

This month, Broadfield resident Geri Maloney celebrated losing 4½ stone after joining  her local Weight Watchers group.

Geri had always battled with her weight but decided to join Weight Watchers after seeing a photograph of herself on a family holiday.

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Geri explains, “I’ve been overweight my whole adult life. My clothes size kept creeping up and although I was never happy with my size, I just accepted it. Every now and again I would attempt to lose weight; I would lose a stone, feel great and then put it all back on again.”

Following from pregnancy, Geri had gained more weight and decided to transition from vegetarian to vegan, in the hope that the plant-based diet may aid her weight-loss, however Geri still found that she struggled.

She said:

“As veganism is more mainstream now there are so many unhealthy options available that it is very easy to still eat junk food, which I did, and therefore didn’t lose weight. I would very rarely look in a full-length mirror and always tried to avoid having full-length photos taken because I would hate seeing myself.

“I gave up on wearing nice clothes and adopted a uniform of leggings and baggy tops which I thought disguised my weight, but when I saw a photo of me holding my daughter, I thought about what she would think of it when she is older. I didn’t want her to look at it and see the Mum who was too unfit to run around after her once she learnt to walk, or never wanted to go clothes shopping.”

Geri knew that she had to make a change, and after seeing a banner advertising her local Broadfield Weight Watchers meeting, she plucked up the courage to sign up.

“It was one of the best decisions I have ever made; walking in was a little daunting but the welcome that I received from my coach, Sharon and the rest of the members, made me relax in no time. I walked out feeling totally inspired and like I could take on the world!”

Since joining Weight Watchers Geri has learnt new healthy eating habits whilst still enjoying her vegan-friendly food. She says:

“In my first week I learnt how to use the Weight Watchers mobile phone app, and I had great fun walking round the supermarkets scanning all my favourite foods, and was surprised by how many of the foods I loved were not off limits. The Flex plan has encouraged me to start cooking more using some of the zero-point foods like tofu, lentils, chickpeas and beans – they’re so versatile and really good for padding out meals to make me feel full and satisfied for longer.”

Now Geri has reached her goal weight and became a Weight Watchers Gold member, she says it’s not just about the weight she has lost, but everything else that she has gained!

“Losing weight has increased my confidence and made me feel fitter. I can go out for a walk with my daughter and chase her around without needing to sit down and rest afterwards.”

A Gold membership is awarded to members once they have achieved their goal weight. As well as receiving a certificate for their achievement, Gold members can attend meetings free of charge and as often as they like, if they stay within 5lbs of their target weight.

Coach Sharon Ashborn says:

“I love Geri because she’s so funky and hip! She brings sparkle to the room, encourages and supports our other members and always contributes to the meeting talks. The best part is she inspires and amazes me with her vegan diet, and how she has continued to follow it alongside the Flex plan.

“As Geri continues to attend the meetings, I will continue to support and encourage her to continue with the fantastic work she has done so far to ensure she will stay on track and take control of her goals for good.”

When asked if she had one piece of advice for people considering joining Weight Watchers, she said, “stop thinking about it and do it, just join! Embrace it and you will achieve your goal!”

Sharon Ashborn runs six meetings a week across West Sussex:

Monday at 5.30pm – Broadfield Youth and Community Centre
Tuesday at 6.30pm – Southwater Leisure Centre
Thursday at 8.45 & 10am – Southwater Leisure Centre
Friday at 9.30am – Haywards Heath St Wilfrids Church Hall
Saturday at 9.45am – Broadfield Youth and Community Centre

To find out more about Sharon’s Weight Watchers meetings email sashborn@weight-watchers.co.uk or visit www.weightwatchers.com/uk to find out about other meetings.

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