“Who We Are” – Karen Hague

Karen Hague is co-founder of Paces Campus, established in 1997 when the Paces charity took over the High Green comprehensive school site, 2 years after it closed. The charity pioneers conductive education for children and adults with cerebral palsy.

Karen has lived in Sheffield all her life and is in her late 40s. After finding out about Conductive Education in Hungary in the late 1980’s, she embarked on numerous visits to the Peto Institute with her only daughter then aged 8. She was keen to see this system of education established in Sheffield so that families wouldn’t have to endure the difficulties in uprooting and sometimes, separating their families for long periods of time.

What do you like most about your job?
Supporting families with disabled children, because I remember what it was like to go through a process of denial and acceptance then being ready for help but not necessarily finding it. Anyone in a similar situation now, should know that they do have a choice of provision to meet their needs and receive support to obtain it.

Best/Worst day?
The best days are whenever we hear that we’ve received a donation, no matter how small! Or recognition for what we do; I was proud to receive an MBE in October 2004 from the Queen, on behalf of the charity.

Who is or was the most important influence in your life?
My daughter, Kirstin, who was premature, she was born at 28 weeks weighing 2lbs 7ozs. She developed hydrocaephalus and was then diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Without her, my life would have been extremely different. I don’t ever contemplate life without her and can’t begin to explain, in a few lines, what a positive impact she has had on me, and my family.

Favourite gadget?
I converted to apple mac around 15 years ago and use a Macbook, would love to have all of their gadgets. Can’t afford an iphone, but wouldn’t be without a mobile phone. I am lured by so-called, labour-saving kitchen gadgets and have many under-used ones that I ought to put on ebay!

Favourite media?
World wide web – I have a twitter page http://twitter.com/KarenHague and use Facebook and Skype. These are ideal for keeping in touch and also keeping up with the latest news. Finding obscure music from the past using spotify online is good fun.

Current or recent film you’d most like to see?
I read ‘Lovely Bones’ some time ago and would like to see the film. There are some books I’d like to see made for the cinema, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon is one.

What music are you listening to right now?
Richard Hawley – lovely rich, relaxing voice – born and bred in Sheffield.

What makes you smile?
Lots of things … simple pleasures like walking; family time and visits to the Yorkshire Dales, where my sister lives, or Scotland.

What would you most like to put right in this world?
Understanding cerebral palsy – there are some common misconceptions and, until these are addressed, those supporting children and adults with this condition will not fully appreciate the value of Conductive Education.

I’m startled by the fact that children as young as 5 are working in hard and hazardous jobs for a meager living in some ‘developing’ countries so that we, in the ‘developed’ countries, can have cheap goods. It has to stop.

How do you see yourself in 10 years?
Happy, that my daughter will be settled, and living independently, with the right level of support. Happy also, that the Paces Campus will be a thriving community resource with the Paces Charity receiving major recognition for conductive education programmes benefiting all ages on our redeveloped site.

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