I CAN staff, partners, donors and beneficiaries gathered for the charity’s anniversary celebration. BBC correspondent Michael Buerk hosted the evening, which featured a performance of ‘Happy Birthday’ by I CAN’s Meath School choir for children with severe and complex communication needs.
The charity also used the opportunity to highlight the continuing importance of communication skills for children growing up in the 21st century.
I CAN chief executive Virginia Beardshaw pointed towards research showing that the number of children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) has increased by 72 per cent in five years, and over half of children in deprived areas now start school with poor language skills.
’We are thrilled that so many supporters joined us at our anniversary event. We were able to raise awareness that in a 21st century world, good communication skills are essential. Employers have them at the top of their list today,' she said.
‘Poor communication impacts negatively on children’s literacy and numeracy. Without adequate support for their communication development, these young people will struggle to achieve good qualifications, build social relationships and get a job. Not only does this have an effect on their lives but also on society, in terms of missed employment opportunities and unproductive lives. This makes poor communication a 21st century public health issue.’
Children and families minister Edward Timpson also attended the birthday celebrations. He said, ‘I’m pleased to have joined I CAN in celebrating their 125 years of work in providing vital information and support for children and young people as well as training for early years practitioners and school staff. Their dedication has helped deliver for thousands of families living with speech and language conditions.
‘Good communication is essential for a successful future. Our reforms through the Children and Families Bill will ensure that every young person with speech, language and communication needs get the quality education they need to fulfil their potential.’
As part of the anniversary celebrations, I CAN has also launched the 125 Challenge, which is recruiting individuals to raise £125 to help the charity support children with SLCN. For more information or to register, email email@example.com