HealthBody & Soul

Sam visits thrilled students at St Michael’s House

Body & SoulBy Esther McCarthy
Sam visits thrilled students at St Michael’s House

Dublin football legend John O’Leary and current star Dean Rock thrilled students at St Michael’s House in Baldoyle this week - when they dropped by with the Sam Maguire Cup

For John, the visit was an extra special one, for his son Tom is one of the students at the school for children with special needs. 

The double All-Ireland winning goalie joined up with current champ Dean  -  the full-forward son of fellow legend Barney  -  to meet the children of St Michael’s. 

One little boy was particularly excited to see the Dublin stars arrive. Tom O’Leary is thriving since starting at the school last September, according to his family. 

He has started walking independently, even though his parents were told he may never take his first steps. Tom was born with a very rare chromosomal disorder which leaves him in need of constant care and with numerous developmental issues. 

Though he is unable to speak he remains a very communicative and affectionate little boy, and has reached many milestones. Most significantly he has started walking unassisted, despite fears he may never do so because of poor muscle tone. 

“He’s doing brilliantly at the moment and we’re delighted he’s started to walk independently,” said Tom’s mum and John’s wife, Catherine. 

“Since he started at St Michael’s they’ve really helped bring him along and   he’s like a different child. His communication skills have improved too. He’s better able to let us know when he wants things, which is less frustrating for him.” 

She added that John and Dean were delighted to bring Sam into Tom and his schoolmates. “John loved bringing in the cup and including the kids in Dublin’s celebrations. It’s important, too, that they get to share in what the other kids share.” 

The sports stars dropped by as part of the school’s Active Arts Week, an initiative which sees the children taking part in numerous activities and arts projects. 

It’s one of a number of incentives the school is taking on to qualify for an Active School Flag, given to primary schools across Ireland that strive to achieve physical education and physical activity across their school community. 

“We’re aiming to get the flag and are having a full week dedicated to activity,” said School Principal Ann Higgins. “We decided to run it in tandem with our arts week, so the children have been having a busy week and providing a lot of the entertainment themselves. 

“It’s been a very exciting week for the children as the focus has been on participation and showcasing their abilities. It’s about building their self-esteem and focusing on ability. 

“Sometimes schools like ours can be overlooked so it was fabulous to have John and Dean in for the opening, which made it extra special. It’s important to see the children partake in initiatives like Active School just like other primary schools.”