A young man who has Down’s Syndrome has won the ‘Student Of The Year’ award at his college after making ‘outstanding progress’ in all areas.
Mitchell Rogers, 19, was presented with his trophy at Telford College’s Willow Tree Centre in early July, after astounding his teachers with his development in the last 12 months.
The college has credited Mitchell’s move into residential home Darwin Place, on Southfield Road, as the catalyst for a big change in his behaviour and success. Staff at the Swanton facility, that helps support adults with learning difficulties and challenging behaviour, have worked in collaboration with Mitchell’s teachers to help facilitate his progress.
For Mitchell, who was joined by his mum for the special night of recognition, was delighted to receive the award.
Mitchell said: “It’s great! I didn’t stop smiling all night. I went to show everyone my trophy and gave them a big thumbs up.”
Darwin Place became Mitchell’s home in October 2018 after his complex needs made life with his family untenable. Back then, he wasn’t engaging during sessions at college – where he is doing an Independent Living Skills course – and was disrupting others with challenging behaviour. Darwin Place manager Christine Ward-Poole said that Mitchell is like a different lad now.
Christine said: “When I went to assess Mitchell, he would only say three or four mumbled words, his chin would be on his chest and he was very withdrawn.
“But the minute he came to Darwin Place, he began to blossom. He’d told me during the assessment that he wanted his own flat, and he sees his room here as just that.
“We initially worked to establish boundaries with him, then we found out the things he was interested in and wanted to do and went with that. If he told us food he wanted for dinner, we’d support him to cook it himself and built up to him buying the ingredients too.
“He’s become best friends with one of the other residents here and they are inseparable. Even his mum can’t believe the Mitchell of today is the same person as the Mitchell before.”
One of the most important parts of Mitchell’s care is the collaboration between Darwin Place staff and his teachers at The Willow Tree Centre. They share a book where Christine and her team detail how Mitchell is and what he’s done during the evening, then the college fills in the same information about his daytime activities before they handover in the afternoon.
Christine said: “It’s a continuous collaboration and it helps us all work towards the same goals.
“When we get his book from college, we might continue the activities he’s been doing during the day into the evening. He’s now bringing us food he’s cooked at college home for us!
“He’s doing so well that I’m in the process of moving him from our main house into one of the independent bungalows here, with a view to him going into supported living at Swanton in 12 months-time.
“Mitchell has told us his ambition is to become a firefighter, after we visited a fire station earlier this year, and to get married. His life has changed dramatically since coming to live at Darwin Place and we’re so incredibly proud of him.”