Riley Thornton, Nadia Layton and Sebastian Leenders-Chappell (pictured) have known each other for their entire lives and are already best buddies. They met at the Summerland Early Intervention Programmes (SEIP) baby group and are just like any other babies, except they all have have special needs.
Riley, who was born on Australia Day this year with Down Syndrome, has been attending SEIP with his parents Andrew and Vicki since he was six weeks old. The Thorntons have three other children, so they need all the help they can get.
The staff at SEIP have supported Rileys physiotherapy and speech therapy and co-ordinated other services for his family, including respite for Rileys older siblings.
SEIP gives you camaraderie and a haven. Somewhere that gives you a sense of belonging, said Vicki Thornton. Society keeps racing along but when you have a child with a disability you get left behind to pick up the pieces. The philosophy of SEIP is to educate and support parents like us, which then gives us the confidence to get on with life. It is really hard to feel confident when you have a child with special needs. Youre flying solo and its easy to feel completely helpless.
SEIP receives some government funding but relies heavily on community donations. The next major fundraiser is at the Pioneer Tavern on Friday, September 1, from 8pm. It features the Neily Diamond Show (a tribute to the 70s pop superstar) plus charity auctions and lucky door prizes.
Tickets are $25 (includes show and nibblies) and available from Andrew Thornton Plumbing in the Wollongbar Shopping Centre or by phoning 6628 7282 or 6628 8429.
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