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The Armidale Waldorf School

Gracie's Gift

Grace Newberry-Dupé arrived with her identical twin sister Isabella on 1st March, 1999. Grace was the youngest of five children. In terms of mainstream thinking, she was considered to be 'profoundly disabled'. At the age of three, Grace was enrolled in Boongaiai Preschool at The Armidale Waldorf School for Rudolf Steiner Education where her siblings attended school. Grace had been non-responsive during previous attempts at mainstream "early intervention" programs, but at Boongaiai she truly embraced the activities presented to her. Like her fellow students, she was recognised as a 'unique spiritual being' with a life purpose, able to bring her special gift to the school community. Nurtured by the gentle rhythm which enfolds the children at Boongaiai and the inherently therapeutic nature of the curriculum, Grace was freed from expectation and enabled to give of her unique 'gift'.

Grace passed away in July, 2003 at a time when the school was grappling with the lack of funding available to allow her supported enrolment at The Armidale Waldorf School. Despite the schools enthusiasm toward Grace's enrolment, the shortfall in government funding was significant, and the ability of such a small school to realistically fund that shortfall over the long term was difficult to envisage. As Grace's parents, we knew that, despite the fact that freedom of choice in education is a basic human right, this choice would be denied our child. It was a heartbreaking reality.

This process brought about a strong desire to ensure that no child should be denied an equal opportunity to fully access the therapeutic curriculum provided by The Armidale Waldorf School. Thus 'Gracie's Gift' was conceived and this has now been formalised as 'The Grace Newberry-Dupé Therapeutic Education Trust'. This Trust Fund is a reflection of a commitment to equity, and acknowledges the unique gift which each child and each family bring to a school community. A parent in the school summed this up beautifully when she said 'I can't tell you how important his friendship with Grace has been to my son. She will continue to be an inspiration in our lives and we will carry her in our hearts forever'.

The Armidale Waldorf School and Boongaiai Preschool can provide access to bursaries & additional support to enable equitable access to the curriculum through this fund. Applications for financial assistance can be completed on enrolment, or for those requiring on-going assistance, during term four of each year. Children requiring additional therapeutic support will be referred to the fund via the Class Teacher and/or a Treating Specialist in consultation with the child's parent/guardian.

Donations to 'Gracie's Gift' are also gratefully accepted.

Robyn Newberry & Kevin Dupè
On behalf of the Board of Trustees

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