By Kimberley Cummins
Several children with special needs were overjoyed this past weekend when they got the opportunity to have a fun-filled day of activities designed just for them before the sun set on another summer vacation.
Pirate’s Inn Apartment Hotel in Hastings, Christ Church was buzzing with excitement on Saturday as the faces of the ten autistic boys, ranging in ages six to 11, lit up as they laughed, splashed in the pool and had lots of fun. Bedecked in tee-shirts customized with their names, compliments M.graphix Inc., they received day passes to the hotel, were also treated to lunch and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, while some of their parents and/or guardians lounged and got a much-needed respite.
Founder of the charity Too Loving Mums Sharon Walker teamed up with the major sponsor, C.O. Williams Construction Company Ltd. to make the event a reality. Walker, whose autistic son Tyler also attended the event, told Barbados TODAY the parents were really appreciative of the break. She believed that these interludes are not only important for the children but especially for their caregivers, the majority of whom are single parents, given the pressures and toll that caring for children with special needs can have on a person.
“Having an autistic child, you don’t know what level he is at during the day as it goes by. A child can wake up in the morning and be completely normal and take up his tablet or his toys and be good for the day. Then next time you have one that can have the slightest little thing like he doesn’t like how the ketchup tastes or he don’t doesn’t like how the sun hitting into the room and they can go from one to 1,000 in a matter of seconds [in terms of mood]. For instance, one of the children that came we had to take turns in talking to him for 45 minutes before we could get him to chill out before he went into the pool because his mother forgot his favourite tee-shirt. Eventually, he enjoyed the rest of the day. So, these kinds of breaks take a little burden off of us,” she added.
Minister of People Empowerment, Kirk Humphrey, also spent some time with the children and stated on his official social media account that he was hoping to give children with autism a better deal in Barbados.
“It was a great day of fun and play for the children and the love on the faces of the parents and caregivers was just beaming. It’s not easy dealing with autism and our society must do more to support the children and families. As Minister, this is my mission, for all persons with disabilities and their caregivers. Know that I feel you,” he said.
Walker noted that this event was only the beginning and she intended to plan more outings for the youngsters and their families. She also thanked C. O. Williams, marketing manager Sharon Carew White, M.graphix Inc., accounts and administration officer Kim Toney, along with Pirate’s Inn and general manager Renée Coppin for their assistance. Furthermore, she extended an invitation to others in corporate Barbados to reach out if they wanted to help the cause.
“Any help, in spite of the size, would be useful,” she added.