A retreat for children at Ellasfield

Ella with her mum Kim
Ella with her mum Kim

A mother has spoken about her work to open up her home as a centre where motor disabled children can learn how to improve their mobility through Conductive Education.

Kim Bryant began her journey towards creating the ‘retreat space’ after her daughter Ella was born. Ella cerebral palsy after suffering brain injury during birth.

Kim said: “The story of finding Conductive Education and Mindfulness & Meditation started 13 years ago, when my daughter Ella was born at the Royal Sussex, Brighton where she suffered a brain injury due to negligence and now consequently has cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy affects movement and co-ordintaion, which makes everyday tasks a challenge. Throughout the early years, I struggled with the enormity of what I felt had happened to my daughter during my difficult labour and struggled with day to day life, feeling devastated for quite some time.

“During this period, I thoroughly researched what therapies where available to help Ella and came across a therapy called Conductive Education which was founded by Dr Andras Peto in Hungary in 1952. Today, the Peto Institute still provides care and support to individuals who have motor disorders, helping them become more independent by means of Conductive Education and showing them how they can live life to the full. Taking Ella to the Peto Institute in Budapest in 2004 as a floppy, one year old little girl who had no trunk control whatsoever was a huge step into the unknown and a little daunting to say the least. However once there, after three weeks intensive therapy, she finally learnt the skills to hold herself upright.

“From then on, Conductive Education became a way of life for Ella and myself, the two of us threw ourselves into it. After that point, there was a shift of focus on my part as I started to be more aware of the achievements Ella could make, rather than the things she may or may not achieve. This shift made me enjoy everyday life and brought my thoughts towards the present day, rather then dwelling on the past or the future. This is where I started my Mindfulness training without even realising it!

“In the meantime, I used to invite Ella’s friends and their mums along to small groups I held at my home based on Conductive Education, which were well received. I managed to personally renovate an outbuilding to hold camps during the warmer weather for other children and their families, thus creating Ellasfield, a small homely centre for young children and their families. Unfortunately, the building has to close during the winter months, so the children cannot continue with us from November to April until I can raise funds for more renovations. I went on to study Mindfulness & Meditation and have introduced this at Ellasfield. Mindfullness & Meditation has been invaluable in helping me deal with life events and the many challenging situations that have presented themselves to me and continue to do so through living with my beautiful daughter Ella and all her unique qualities and struggles. Mindfulness brings us into the present moment and shifts our awareness to the here and now, so we can begin to enjoy the everyday and not worry about the future or go over the past. I understand people want simple ways to help themselves and to feel results, this is what Mindfulness offers.

“My personal goal is to create a ‘retreat’ space here at Kettlesbridge Farm, Coneyhurst, a place for the whole family or individuals to come and find peace and recharge after the stressful week. The retreat will offer over night accommodation and a taste of Mindfulness for the children and their families to take back and use in their lives.”

Find out more at www.ellasfield.com.