We have been involved with Flamingo Chicks since the beginning. From the very first class you could see that Katie had hit on a very real need in our community. With just a few posters dotted around north Bristol she had filled a room.
My daughter Beatrice was 6. Having been diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder at the age of 2 we were struggling to find a place where she fitted. Being physically able but learning disabled meant that it was hard to find groups that challenged her physically but were not too focused around understanding rules and responding to directions.
At that first class I knew we’d found a fit. There we other children her age there, with similar challenges and Katie and the teacher engaged the kids allowing each to do what they needed to do as the class progressed.
The few volunteers that helped out in that first class created an environment of both support and freedom for our children and they continue to do that in the classes today. As I sat talking to the parents I realised that many of them lived with the same daily worries and stresses as me.
It didn’t take long for Flamingo Chicks to become an established community. Beatrice is 12 now and still attends a weekly class along with many of the children we met on that first day. He two younger sisters, who are neurotypical, have also enjoyed taking part.
For Beatrice and I it has been a sustaining and supportive environment. As the parent of a child with special needs you come to really appreciate a place where your child is not judged for their behaviour and you are not frowned on for it. Beatrice has made some of her best friends at flamingo chicks and I have too, friends who really understand my life in a way that other friends cannot.
Since those early days we’ve done so much. Beatrice has danced for a UN delegation, performed at 10 Downing Street and signed a speech in the House of Commons.
When Beatrice was diagnosed we didn’t know if she would walk, let alone dance, for her to have achieved the things she has just goes to show that given the right opportunities disabled children are capable of so much.