“I didn’t know Oliver had Down syndrome until after he was born. As part of our journey, we met up with some families who also had babies or young toddlers with Down syndrome at the child development centre and that was when our journey with Sunshine & Smiles began.
The cafe is a great environment to take Oliver to where he can feel safe and relaxed. He looks forward to going and often role plays working at the cafe at home. I used to be more reserved going to places with him as he doesn’t particularly like loud noises or going to busy places, but when we come here; we know the staff and always feel welcomed. Oliver loves coming here.
Sunshine & Smiles have supported us in many ways. I remember when Oliver first started school. It was clear quite quickly that it wasn’t going so well. So I contacted Sunshine & Smiles. They supported me through meetings and helped us with the transition. More recently, he’s moving to a new school more suited to his needs. Sunshine & Smiles have helped me develop his Education, Health & Care Plan (ECHP).
It can be demanding task to keep on top of all the hospital appointments, various application forms and battles we have as parents of children with additional needs but having the network and support is vital and it’s great to have made so many friendships along the way. We are just like one big family.”
Sunshine & Smiles supports children and young people with Down syndrome in Leeds. Their aim is to improve the lives of people with Down syndrome. With support from Leeds Community Foundation they have been able to offer a variety of activities such as support groups for new parents and develop their own social enterprise, Cafe 21, which gives young adults with Down syndrome the opportunity to gain work experience, customer service skills and learn about working in a hospitality environment.