This year we didn’t do the annual Disney on Ice trip for 12 children, because the cost of the disability seating has been restricted to the higher ticket prices. It was a shame and clear that the children love it, because when the advert came on the TV many would look at me when I was in the room and vocalize. Alas, it didn’t seem wise to spend so much this time.
Our sweet friends at the GES school offered an invitation to go to see their Cinderella show that their students were putting on. It was really kind of them and so 12 children were chosen from the ward kids. Many were children who will be getting old enough in the coming year to be moving to orphanages for older children and the rest were smaller children who were new to our ward and had not been before. The reason for choosing smaller children is that we had less adults for the journey to the school than children, so four were in car seats next to an adult who was also caring for a different child.
Only Miss K from my group came. From the 1Step2Step group, the two oldest boys (Mr C and Mr B) will be moving to Ratchawadee boys’ home in September for sure. As I was choosing the kids for the trip, the ward mum said that maybe Miss K would be moved to the girls’ home, but this was not the case. At that point, I had already considered taking Miss K, so I didn’t change that.
We were really busy on this day also and I was called away regarding the adventure room fixing for a short while. Liz worked wonderfully on dressing the children for me and then I helped when I got back.
Then the teachers from the school arrived and we took the children one by one to the minibuses. It was a snug fit, even with two vans, because of the strollers and we ended up leaving one back at the orphanage. Finally, once everyone and the chairs were in, we headed off. I had the hardest child to hold, because I knew she needed assistance to cope with her excited nervous energy, which increases her muscle tone. Once I had reduced her tight muscles, she relaxed more in my arms and sat watching cars, grabbing on to the seat in front and interacting with other adults. She grinned at jokes and even at one point wrapped her arm round my neck and pulled me in close. She was very sweet, but challenging to hold. The traffic was bad, but we made it to the school in time and got everyone back in their chairs.
We had extra adults from the school that met us ready to support a child. The child without the pushchair was kindly carried in the car seat and looked very comfortable.
The doors opened and we were taken to our seats on the front row. The school had kindly removed one row of pew-like benches, so the children had prime position in their strollers, with their adults behind them. All seemed fine as I checked their comfort. One of the bigger boys was able to sit in a less supported wheelchair, but the head rest was not very supportive. He asked to get out of his chair and be on a mat. The school were so kind and brought a mat for us to sit on the floor instead. This worked in our favour later without our knowing. We were not in anyone’s way, because the child in the car seat was on the bench with his adult beside him, so the spacing worked out perfectly.
We got the boy out of his chair and sat him crossed-legged on the mat with me. He loved meeting all the staff from the school and tried so hard to greet them. Megan, the director of the show, gave a kind, special welcome to our kids, which he really appreciated. Then it was time for the National Anthem. The kids stayed in their chairs, while the adults stood for them. I kneeled up in high kneeling, so I could still support the boy and he sat up as tall as he could for the whole song, pulling up taller if he felt he was slouching. This was really sweet and he bowed his head at the end.
The show started and after about five minutes, one of the bigger kids was a little restless. The child with me lay on the mat for a minute, while I assisted. A quick shift of his feet and rotation of his hips and he was fine and happy for the rest of the 45-minute show.
There were a few moments when the boy I was with was really animated. There was a box on the stage with items in and at one point a ball rolled out. He was very keen for them to see the ball and kept eye pointing at it. Then there was a puppet for the king and he loved that. At one moment they said that Prince Charming was not handsome, but he disagreed with that when I asked what he thought.
He liked the idea of a mermaid trying on a shoe and when the cast danced. One part confused him. The ‘godmother in training’ was mouthing something, but the voice was coming from somewhere else. He watched puzzled till I pointed out the person on the side.
There were some musical parts to the show and the child in the car seat above me really liked it, but in one of those moments he went into a seizure. The big boy lay on the mat again and I got the child out of the car seat and down on the mat with us watching till he stopped. It was not for long, but it made the ward mum nervous. She held him with her for a bit. He didn’t come out of it badly; he seemed both to have a good colour and was breathing normally.
Just near the end, Miss N and one of the smaller boys were a little grumpy. I realised Miss N was wet and the little one was hungry for his milk, which I thought he had already had. All in all, the moans were minimal. They did so well.
At the end, the biggest boy wanted to clap and he told the cast they did very well and that he enjoyed it. He enjoyed it so much, he didn’t want to go back to Bann Feung Fah. He wanted to sleep on that mat in the church building. He got to stay there for a little extra time while I got Miss N a fresh nappy and pants, then we put him in his chair ready to head to the buses. This time the school brought us an extra pick-up truck, so the chairs were not taking seats. Each child had an adult and all were relaxed. Liz even commented about how impressed she was with the way the children had behaved in both the travel there and back. It was quiet and relaxed. I didn’t have a child, but just as we left, I did a head count in both busses. We had five children and they had seven. When I checked, the little squiggly girl was being encouraged to stretch out by the ward mum and was getting stressed, so I said I’d take her with me. She curled up again, so calmed down well. I was telling the volunteer about how she had voluntarily hugged me on the first journey and the little girl was laughing as I replayed her actions.
We got back, undressed all, packed the laundry up for home, stored the chairs and all headed home.
I was so grateful to the school for everything – the invitation, the transport, the extra car and accommodating us with the best seats. I appreciated the staff for helping and caring for the kids so they had a great time and for all the practical assistance. Thanks are also due to the cast for entertaining us so well and making it such a fun time. The final huge thank you was for their generosity in donating the fundraised money from the ticket sales to us also. They are a huge blessing to us as a charity and have helped us out with a few things mentioned in past blogs – check out Bank holiday cleaning day, Going to the Disney on Ice show and the opportunity to talk to the staff in the seminar too, see Great opportunity to encourage inclusion (with pictures!) . They are presently helping us with a creative task too, where they are taking wood and sheets to create canvases that our muralist will paint for the sick ward isolation room ceilings. They provide such a big help with practical things too. I personally have been blessed by the friendship of many of the members of staff and the chance to join them on fun outings like the movies and even zip lining. It’s nice to have an extended friendship group who really value the work I do and want to invest in it with me at all levels.
I’m so very grateful for such a lovely opportunity. Some of the teachers said it was great for them too… I’ll add some of their statements as quotes to help show what an impact these children have on others’ hearts…
Director Megan said, ‘Our pleasure! So happy you could come with kids last night! We raised 13,971 baht through the Cinderella performances!’
Amanda said, ‘Just loved seeing them laugh’ and ‘I have a whole new respect for your job’
Jessica said, ‘To work with special needs children is more tiring than mainstream children like ours. So power to ya lol. Especially 12 children. But I really enjoyed it!!! I loved working with them! I had a cousin, he’s passed away now but he was physically and mentally handicapped so working with those children today was very rewarding to me. It is a challenging job, but at the end of the day very rewarding being able to love up on those children. They seemed really happy to get out and about and enjoy being around new people/faces.’
Alexandra said, ‘I can see some are having fun meeting new people. Some, just going on the bus ride was exciting for them.’ She has helped translate at the boys’ home, so has some idea of what the situation for these children is like.
Adam said… ‘It was fun. Glad I could help get them out for a while.’
Thank you to these people and all the others too.