A sculptor of stars intervenes to finance a school to help young dyslexics
A Scottish sculptor who helped fund a school for dyslexic children in Bali will see firsthand how much of a difference it can make to their lives on his first visit there.
Mark Stoddart, known for his famous hippopotamus sculptures, which fetch thousands of pounds across the world, was instrumental in helping the Bali Dyslexia Foundation buy its own land to start building a school and flew over later this month.
Knowing all too well the difference it can make to a youngster if they receive help and advice for their dyslexia diagnosis, Mr Stoddart was touched when asked to take part in a capsule funeral remotely timeline ahead of his trip later this month.
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The Ayrshire artist has lived with dyslexia all his life and credits his artistic success to the confidence he gained after attending Frewen College in Sussex, a school which has specifically helped people with dyslexia. He said his college education taught him he didn’t need to be held back by the condition.
Mr Stoddart said: ‘The foundation has signed all the legal documents, purchased the land and blessed the soil to enable them to begin construction. They just had a ceremony for 60 people putting the first official shovel into the ground. A time capsule was buried that will be dug up in 20 years and I was asked to write some words to read and put in the time capsule. The contractors plan to complete the school by the end of the year.
His message to prospective students, which was buried in the time capsule, read, “Art has given me the most wonderful opportunities in life. Through art, I was able to sculpt
a career for myself that uses my dyslexic thinking skills and focuses on my passions and creativity.
I am so lucky to now be in a position where I can give back and help those who need it most to progress.
Mr. Stoddart has donated the funds to help them get to this stage and for him, it means a lot to him.
He added: “It may be the only school of its kind in the world. They have more land than the school needs so we keep the coconut and banana trees. I’m very excited to go see the Eco
A neurodiverse dyslexic friendly (carbon neutral) school being built and meet the students I will sponsor in their education.
“By funding the school, I hope that I too can help dreams become
a reality for both the pupils and the teachers of the school.
“Through the educational opportunities the school will provide, including all aspects of art, design and the performing arts, students will be provided with the tools, skills and confidence to carve out a future and a career positive.
“Having dyslexia, dyspraxia or
other learning differences are not
means a person cannot have a happy and successful life. Through creative learning, the school will equip every child with the ability to build a future.
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With his links to the charity Dyslexia Scotland, he also hopes to be able to take a tablet with him which will already be loaded with teachers’ and pupils’ dyslexic training courses and he hopes to be able to help them with teaching modules.
He added: “My reason for doing this is a thank you to my good friend Nel, who passed away last year, who as a child lived in Indonesia. She introduced me to Bali, which is such a wonderful part of the world. I also want to give students with dyslexia a chance in life and I hope not to experience what I experienced at the beginning of my life.
“We are in contact with art schools in New York and Australia who have agreed to offer some students a scholarship to attend.”
It’s not just about learning, the school will also have an art room, an auditorium for drama, singing and dancing as well as a meditation room.
Meanwhile, a second project supported by Mr. Stoddart is laying the groundwork for a new school.
He helped Kenya Dyslexia Organization with the aim of building the New RareGem Talent School in Nairobi.
He received funds from the raffle for a Hostage Hippo coffee table tied to the fifth birthday of star Cincinnati Zoo resident Fiona the Hippo, known for defying the odds after she was born six months premature weighing just 29 pounds .
Mr. Stoddart’s limited-edition table ended up being listed as part of the fixtures and fittings when a Troon hotel went bankrupt. He fought to get the table returned and earlier this year donated it to the zoo for the raffle.
Work stopped on the new school due to a shortage of steel and soaring prices.
“I’m trying to get them through to the first stage to allow them to leave their current premises,” he added. “Kenya is where it all started for me over 30 years ago through the Hippo connection. The current school is in rented premises at the moment,
but rents and operating costs keep rising.
“The school is well over capacity with 215 dyslexic students, some with other disabilities, and 90% of them are boarders. They have a waiting list of over 100 students that they can’t take. If I can get them to the first step that will get them out of their rented buildings, they can reduce their overhead.”
Mr Stoddart’s help is not their only connection to the Scots, as he discovered the school was still using old iron Singer sewing machines built in Clydebank a few years ago.