Read testimonials from parents who used the Rainbow Umbrella after school care programme and professionals who have been involved with our service.
To whom it may concern
Re: Rainbow Umbrella Care
Our son, Aaron has foetal alcohol syndrome which presents with a lot of challenging behaviours and therefore requires close supervision at all times even though he is now 13yrs old. He has attended Rainbow Umbrella’s Afterschool Care Programme for the two years now and is essential support to our family life.Aaron really enjoys his time at Rainbow Umbrella Care and he is able to relax and feel safe there and the staff are just fantastic and very approachable. There are lots of staff around and they certainly meet the specific physical and emotional needs of each individual child. Often Aaron is stressed after his day at the school and the staff are able to de-stress him and talk through any problems that he has encountered at school.
I am also very impressed by the varied activities that they have for the children. I recently attended a party at the centre and it was a very special time as all the kids had so much fun playing musical chairs and pass the parcel and I enjoyed being able to chat to the other parents. All the children were fully included no matter what their disability was. Aaron feels accepted here and can relax and be himself because he is in an environment where he feels safe and knows that all the staff care and understand.
In fact one day after I picked him up he said he would like to be helper there when he grows up and that certainly tells me that he loves being there.
This year we had a particularly difficult time with Aaron’s schooling in that he did not cope with the move to High School and we had to remove him after only three weeks of term 1. It was a very stressful time for us as we had no choice but to home school him. Jeannine and her staff at Rainbow were absolutely fantastic and were able to have Aaron on the days we were both working and they were also happy for Aaron to come to Rainbow at 2pm when I was on an afternoon shift. There flexibility and support was astounding and I feel very lucky to meet such a caring bunch of people. During this time we had a lot of difficult decisions to make and Jeannine was our sounding board. I was able to email or phone her to go over things and she always answered promptly and with complete understanding. A trouble shared is a trouble halved and Jeannine and her team at Rainbow are not just there for the kids but for the parents too. After two terms of being off school Aaron is now at the Fairhaven Unit at Tamatea High School and again Rainbow have been extremely valuable in his transition to a new school.
An essential ingredient to the success of this programme is communication and I give them 100%. They are approachable, very friendly and always greet you with a smile when picking up your child. I have been able to talk to them about problems affecting Aaron at the school and they have been excellent at providing feedback on his day when we pick him up after work. They truly care and understand what the issues are for families with disabled children and I highly recommend this programme to anyone considering sending their ‘special’ child to an after school care facility.
Mrs Lisa Smith
BSc RGN RSCN Dip Asthma
Parent and a Paediatric Nurse
To Whom It May Concern
Re: Rainbow Umbrella Afcare
Rainbow Umbrella provides a wonderful after school care facility for my severely autistic son and since attending Rainbow Umbrella, I have seen encouraging developments regarding his abilities. My son usually has a very narrow range of passive interests, for example, playing on the computer and watching DVDs and when he first started at Rainbow, indeed most of his time was spent watching DVDs. As the months have passed, however, his range of interests has widened and his socialisation increased. He will now play in the sandpit (a sensory experience which previously overwhelmed him), thread beads (excellent therapy for his fine motor skills) and has even begun to play alongside other children. He also thoroughly enjoys the water play offered by Rainbow Umbrella during terms 1 and 4. At 14 years old, I didn’t think my son would be pursuing new activities or seeking new sensory experiences (such as getting his feet dirty) but with the gentle encouragement of afcare staff members, these new achievements have been made possible.
A mainstream afcare would not be sufficient for my son’s high needs due to the necessity for secure fencing, the “right” environment to cope with his abovementioned sensory needs and most importantly, the staff/child ratio and lack of appropriately trained staff. My son needs 1:1 because he is a runner (so he always needs careful supervision when outside) and because he requires assistance to perform any new level of activity. It is well documented that autistic children benefit greatly from 1:1 and I am so keen to see this level of staffing continue at Rainbow to help both my son and other children who require the same level of support.
Having my son at Rainbow Umbrella provides my other children the opportunities of participating in after school activities such as team sports and so, lead some semblance of a normal life. It is not possible to bring my son to such events due to his high sensory needs (he has sensitive hearing and so cannot tolerate parents cheering on the sidelines), he has minimal concentration span and as a runner, he has no awareness of road safety.
As for me, I can also make myself available for additional hours at work which is becoming increasingly important in these economically straitened times.
We all have our needs but when there is a disabled child in the family, the needs of the other family members come secondary.
Having access to the wonderful afcare service provided by Rainbow means that our family now has opportunities and choices that other families take for granted – it’s not a case of wanting more than anyone else but merely to enjoy the same as others.
Dear JeannineMany of my patients with complex disabilities now attend the Rainbow Umbrella After-School Care programme. Rainbow Umbrella’s Afcare programme has been an enormous boom for my patients since it began in March 2009. The high level of care is essential for children with complex disabilities and the impact on the children and parents, e.g. allowing parents to work full-time and providing social opportunities for these children has been enormous.
With the economic downturn, philanthropic funding has been tight for all non-governmental organisations and I understand this has affected the Rainbow Umbrella Charitable Trust also. I wish you the best of luck in your attempts to secure funding. From my perspective the Rainbow Umbrella Afcare Programme is an exceptionally helpful programme for children with multiple disabilities and I would very much like to see it continue.
Electronically checked but not signed by
– Russell Wills, FRACP
Consultant Community & General Paediatrician
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board
To whom it may concern
This letter is in support of Rainbow Umbrella Charitable Trust. This Trust was established to provide an After School Care Programme for children with disabilities. The children are taken care of after school by a dedicated and committed trained team of staff who make this time of value to the children that they support. Feed-back from families, schools and services attest to the value and significance of this service. The children look forward to attending each day after school and it is obvious from the many happy faces and laughter that it is a positive, affirming environment. This is the only programme in Hawke’s Bay that caters for these children.
The life of children with significant disabilities presents huge challenges and pressures, for both the child and their families. This service provides a valuable service to families, allowing them time to meet ‘other’ family obligations that they may have had limited time or energy to attend to previous to this service availability, i.e. providing valuable one to one time with other children in the family, who tend to miss out on some things due to the time and care that is afforded to their disabled family member, added time to shop, rest, plan, work on relationships, etc. It would be a huge loss to the families and to the children, to lose this haven of respite and positive engagement due to lack of funding and indifference to their future.
Consideration and support of this Trust would be greatly appreciated.
Behavioural Support Specialist