On March 3-4 with the kind assistance of LNG producer Atlantic, the Andrew Lewis Sailing Foundation held a seminar for over 100 children with dyslexia. By the end of both days it was very clear to all that the seminar had achieved what it was set out to do, which was to empower these children and make them understand that having dyslexia is in fact a gift.
The “Succeeding with Dyslexia” seminar was the dreamchild of two time Olympian and Atlantic Sports Ambassador Andrew Lewis. Being dyslexic himself Andrew was able to quickly connect with the attendees to share his challenges and more importantly share his successes. Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, Vice President, Corporate Operations at Atlantic who addressed the seminar on Saturday was pleased to partner with Andrew to make the seminar a reality. She noted that when Andrew told her some five years ago that he had dyslexia Atlantic immediately set out to find ways to assist Andrew’s in raising a greater awareness about dyslexia. The first collaborative effort was a movie premier fundraiser for the Dyslexia Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the movie was suitably, “Man of Steel”.
Dyslexia is widely misunderstood and while having dyslexia makes it difficult to read, it certainly does not mean that the person cannot excel. Some of the many famous persons with dyslexia include: Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, Henry Winkler, Stephen Spielberg, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and the list goes on and on. The 100 plus children were thrilled to know that they were part of a very special group of people and that having dyslexia often meant that they are very creative with above average IQs.
The seminar was split over two days, Saturday for secondary school students and Sunday for primary school students. The attendees had a full day. They had motivational and inspirational talks from Vivian Wall and Don La Foucade and they did exercises and activities to stimulate their brain led by Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapist students from the University of the Southern Caribbean. Also present was the head of the Dyslexia Association of Trinidad and Tobago Cathryn Kelshall who addressed not only the participants but their parents and shared some valuable learning tips and tools.
Reflecting on the weekend Andrew Lewis said that he was satisfied with the turnout and enthusiasm of the children. “I am extremely grateful to Atlantic for helping me make this dream a reality and for opening the eyes of the children who came this weekend to realise the great talent that they have. There is a lot of work still to be done however and I am deeply committed to championing this cause and making a difference to help children with dyslexia.” There was no bigger smile in the room than Andrew’s when a 12-year-old boy in replying to a question as to whether a banana can make you powerful said, “Anything can be powerful, it depends how you use it.”