Meningitis Now staff member Clara Wiggins

Funding awarded to Sophia after meningitis

Clara Wiggins | 19th March 2020

Young Sophia Grew always felt self-conscious of her big and bulky cumbersome schoolbooks – until an award from our Rebuilding Futures Fund helped her find a brilliant user-friendly alternative

Rebuilding Futures Fund for Sophia Grew after meningitis

Thanks to visual impairment brought on by the meningitis she contracted as a child, eight-year-old Sophia has all her reading books enlarged as part of the Special Education System in Northern Ireland. 

But now Sophia has found a simple but effective solution to help her learn without being embarrassed in front of her classmates: an iPad. 

Sophia, who is a Year 4 pupil in County Antrim, had a difficult start to life when she was born in 2011. She was born early and within the first week of her life she contracted enterovirus septicaemia with associated viral meningitis, myocarditis and hepatitis – which led to multi-organ failure. She was left with an eye condition called Cerebral Visionary Impairment, which is a visual processing disorder. 

But despite all these problems, Sophia “surpassed all expectations” according to medical reports supporting her Rebuilding Futures Fund application, which meant that to an untrained observer, it appeared that she was functioning at an identical level to her peers. 

This was one of the reasons having the extra large books made Sophia feel so self-conscious, and why mum Janet applied to the Opportunities section of our Rebuilding Futures Fund.

Help with her happiness

“The iPad will enable Sophia to download books to read, and she will then be able to enlarge those as much as necessary,” she said.

“Worksheets can also be downloaded on to the iPad and she can complete these using the smart keyboard and smart pen – which will help improve her writing skills.

“At the moment, books are enlarged for her – but the quality is poor and she is conscious that she is different to others within her class!

“Being able to use an iPad will help her in different ways – help her with her school work but also help her with her happiness and confidence at school."

Cheryl Brown, Meningitis Now’s Support Services Manager, said she was pleased to hear Sophia’s bid for funds had been approved and that she was already using her new iPad.

“We know how much difference something so simple can make to someone’s life and Sophia sounds like a fantastic recipient of our funding,” she said. 

“I hope this helps make her life easier and that she continues to love her reading, both at school and at home.”

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