A Roscrea Youth Award. Membership in the Irish Wheelchair Association’s Basketball team. Enable Ireland. Toastmasters. Blind Soccer. And a distinction in the Leaving Cert Applied for designing braille signs for all the fire extinguishers in his school.

A 22-year-old Vocational Education student who has been part of the ChildVision family since the age of 13, Michael isn’t one to let life’s challenges hold him back. He’s faced many. Michael has Apert Syndrome – so rare that only twenty people in Ireland have it. Born with a fused skull, fingers and toes, a second surgery to allow his brain to develop left Michael with no vision. “His Dad walked up to me with tears in his eyes and just said, ‘He’s blind.’” Mum Marian will never forget the day. It was his family – and the love of a dynamic teacher early on – who started Michael on his way. “His brothers and sisters didn’t react at all to Michael’s appearance, it was just one of those things” says Michael’s mum. “They just loved him.”

So when the International Communication Project (ICP 2014) was introduced to the Vocational Education students here at ChildVision, it’s no surprise that Michael was first in line. He volunteered to develop a video that would speak not only on behalf of himself, but for his peers and others around the world for whom communication is equal parts struggle and triumph.

Michael knows that triumph better than most, a direct result of your kind donations. Weekly mobility sessions here on campus mean that Michael, who is totally blind, can travel independently from our vocational classrooms to the primary school. He’s developed his literacy, IT and braille skills through the ChildVision library and resource teacher. And as you’ll see in the YouTube video, speech and language therapy helped Michael’s stammer all but disappear.

See Michael’s YouTube advocating for people with communication disorders!

In collaboration with the SLT department, Michael developed a video advocating on behalf of people with visual impairments and communication difficulties.