The spirit of the dance brought people together at the Alafia Family Open Day. The event at Wycliffe Church saw different cultures turn out for a fun time, with African drums and dance setting the pace.
Family Outreach Worker, Amelia Robinson, was delighted at the response to Alafia’s first family day event:
“We wanted to make sure we could reach all the minorities, such as Nepalese and Polish. A diverse group has come today and it’s nice to see children with and without special needs all playing together.”
Local teenager Leon put on a performance of street dance and youngsters were able to enjoy face painting and games.
As for the adults, there was a talk on healthy eating and exercise, stressing the importance of passing on a healthy lifestyle to the next generation. They were offered on-the-spot health checks for blood pressure, BMI, diabetes and cholesterol by the Jacquah Foundation.
Florence Chaloledwa turned up for the event with her five year old son Given, who has Autism.
She revealed how she suspected his condition when he was a baby and she refused to wait five years for a diagnosis. She was advised to put him into a special needs school, and that’s when she turned to Alafia for help.
“I used to suffer alone,” she said.
With Florence’s determination and Alafia’s backing, Given was given a statement and is now thriving at a mainstream school.
Florence says “He loves school and he’s so popular, everyone from teachers to pupils adore him. I’ve taught him to be confident. If you seclude a child at a young age with autism, they will never integrate, they can’t associate with anyone. I make sure he has activities every day.”
Alafia is part of the Acre (Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality) organisation, and supports minority ethnic families with a child (age 0-25) with additional needs and disabilities. The group can advocate on a family’s behalf as well as ensure service providers are recognising the community’s needs. From helping with filling out forms, to organising day trips out, the Alafia team can boast that they get things done.
Community Engagement officer, Victoria Hunter, spoke about one of its latest projects: “We’re trying to do something very unique for Christmas. We’re asking local restaurants to sponsor our Christmas calendar with different cuisines represented for each month.”
Alafia meets the first Tuesday of each month, 10am to 1pm at Wycliffe Church, 233 Kings Road, Reading.
A special needs evening takes place the second Monday of the month from 5.15pm to 7.30pm at Krazy Play Days, Unit 7, Sterling Way, Norcot Industrial Estate, Reading.
Phone: 0118 9510 279.