A SCOTS sculptor who has helped to fund a school for children with dyslexia in Bali will see first-hand how it can make a difference to their lives when he makes his first visit there.


Mark Stoddart, known for his famous Hippo sculptures, which fetch thousands of pounds across the world, has been instrumental in assisting the Bali Dyslexia Foundation to buy their own land to start to build a school and flies out there later this month.
Knowing only too well the difference it can make to a young person if they are given help and guidance with their dyslexia diagnosis, Mr Stoddart was humbled when the was asked to take part remotely in a time capsule burial ahead of his trip later this month.

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The Ayrshire artist has lived with dyslexia his whole life and credits his artistic success to the confidence he gained after attending Frewen College in Sussex, a school that specially helped people with dyslexia. He said his education at the college taught him that he didn’t need to be held back by the condition.

HeraldScotland: Youngsters at ceremony to mark ground breaking at Bali schoolYoungsters at ceremony to mark ground breaking at Bali school
Mr Stoddart said: “The foundation has signed all the legal documents, bought the land and blessed the ground to allow them to start the build. They have just held a ceremony for 60 people putting the first official spade in the ground. A time capsule was buried which is going to be dug up in 20 years and I was asked to write a few words to be read out and put in the time capsule. The contractors plan to have the school finish by the end of the year.”
His message to future students, which was buried in the time capsule, read: “Art has given me the most wonderful opportunities in life. Through art, I have been able to carve 
a career for myself that utilises my dyslexic thinking skills and centres around my passions and creativity. 
I am so very fortunate to now be in a position where I can give back and help those that need it most to advance.”

HeraldScotland: The Kenyan school is still using Singer sewing machines made in ClydebankThe Kenyan school is still using Singer sewing machines made in Clydebank
Mr Stoddart has gifted the funds to help them reach this stage and for him it is very close to his heart.
He added: “This may be the only school of its type in the world. They have more ground than the school requires so we are keeping the coconut trees and banana plants. I am very excited to go and see the Eco 
Friendly (Carbon Neutral) Dyslexic Neurodiverse school being built and meet the students I will be sponsoring with their education.
“By funding the school, I am hoping that I too can help dreams to become 
a reality for both the students and teachers of the school.
“Through the educational opportunities the school will provide, including all aspects of art, design and performing arts, the students will be given the tools, skills and confidence to carve out a positive future and career.
“Having dyslexia, dyspraxia, or 
other learning differences doesn’t 
mean a person can’t have a happy successful life. Through creative learning, the school will equip each child with the ability to make a future for themselves.”

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With his strong links to the charity Dyslexia Scotland, he is also hoping to be able to take a tablet with him that will already be uploaded with teacher and students 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 to me to Bali which is such a wonderful part of the world. I also want to give the dyslexic students a chance in life and hopefully not go through what I did in my early life.
“We are in touch with art colleges in New York and Australia that have agreed to get some of the students a bursership enabling them to attend.”
It is not just about learning, the school will also have an art room, auditorium for acting, singing and dancing and also a room for meditation.

HeraldScotland: Mark Stoddart hopes to visit the school in Bali later in JulyMark Stoddart hopes to visit the school in Bali later in July
Meanwhile, a second project Mr Stoddart has been supporting is now laying foundations for a new school. 
He has been helping Kenya Dyslexia Organisation with the goal to build the New RareGem Talent School in Nairobi.
It received funds from the raffle of a Hostage Hippo coffee table linked to the fifth birthday of Cincinnati Zoo’s star resident Fiona the Hippo, known for defying the odds after she was born six months prematurely weighing just 29 pounds. 
Mr Stoddart’s limited edition table ended up being listed as part of fixtures and fitting when a Troon hotel went bust. He fought to have the table returned and earlier this year gifted it to the zoo for the raffle. 
Work ground to a halt at the new school due to a shortage of steel and soaring prices.
“I’m trying to get them to the first stage to enable them to move out of their existing premises,” he added. “Kenya is where it all started for me more than 30 years ago through the Hippo connection. The current school is in rented premises at the moment, 
but rents and running costs are rising all the time.
“The school is well beyond maximum capacity with 215 dyslexic students, some with other disabilities, and 90 per cent of them board. They have a waiting list of more than 100 students that they can’t take. If I can get them to the first stage that will enable them to move out of their rented buildings they would be able to cut their overheads.”
Mr Stoddart’s help isn’t their only Scots connection as he discovered the school is still using some old iron  Singer sewing machines that were built in Clydebank some years ago.