A HEARTBROKEN Wearside couple are helping children with special needs in memory of their son.
Darren and Janine Fucile have donated 40 sensory boxes and a range of other sensory items to the portage team at the city’s Sunningdale School, which caters for youngsters with special needs.
The dedicated High Barnes pair set up the Joseph George Fucile Fund last year in memory of their son, and have already raised a massive £15,000 to help children with special needs through a variety of projects.
Joseph, who suffered from a rare form of Rett Syndrome known as MeCP2, was just 16 months old when his parents made the heartbreaking decision to turn his life support off when he became critically ill in October 2012.
Since then they have thrown themselves into fund-raising in a bid to enhance the lives of other children with special needs.
The latest to benefit are the families involved with the Sunningdale School’s portage service, which is a non-funded unit that goes out to work with pre-school children with special needs, plus running sessions in school.
Janine, 39, who works at St Aidan’s Catholic Academy, said: “Joseph was one of the children who benefited from the service, so we wanted to help them if we could. The toys for disabled children are very expensive and not everyone can afford them.”
Donna Murphy, lead member of the portage team, said the £2,000 worth of sensory boxes will be a massive boost for families.
She said: “The items in them are things that we take with us when we visit the children, but we have to take them from house to house.
“To be able to provide each of the families with a sensory box of their own will be fantastic. They can carry on with the education when we are not there.”
Research has shown that early intervention with the education of children with special needs is very effective, so although there is no direct funding for it, Sunningdale runs this vital service.
Darren and Janine, who are also parents to 14-year-old Alicia, say their charity work is helping them to cope with the grief of losing Joseph.
Darren, 40, a store manager for Nike, said: “The pain doesn’t go away, but fundraising does help. It is about giving something back for the support and help we got.”
To find out more about the fund, visit www.josephgeorgefucilefund.org.uk.