Happy faces and ‘belly laughs’ at autism and ADHD friendly ‘birthday party’ event hosted by Gosport charity

LAUGHS and excited shouts filled the air at Gosport Leisure Centre as a charity held a special autism-friendly birthday party.

Saturday, 13th November 2021, 5:11 pm
Updated Sunday, 14th November 2021, 1:29 pm
Pictured is: Daisy Farmilo, 3

Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-21)
Pictured is: Daisy Farmilo, 3 Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-21)

Marvels and Meltdowns held the event for youngsters with autism and ADHD to mark the sixth birthday of Marvel, the Gosport charity’s mascot.

Founder Shandrika Day said that the annual event gives the children a chance to experience a birthday celebration as many children living with autism and ADHD do not get invited to parties.

She said: ‘It’s Marvel's sixth birthday and every year we celebrate his birthday.

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Pictured is: Enjoying a bit of a dance session Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-12)

‘We want to give those children the party experience and send invitations to each child.’

Shandrika added that there were 'lots of new faces at this year's party'.

She said: 'It's just wonderful.'

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Pictured is: Sky,2 with Dad Chris Smalley. Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-18)

There were 48 children at the party, accompanied by their parents and carers.

Packed lunches were provided, as well as freshly popped popcorn and spun candy floss from Sticky Fingers Events.

Mum of three Vicky Lording said: 'They always make sure that the children have fun.

'My children don't always get invited to parties, but Marvels and Meltdowns make it fun for them.

Pictured is: Happy Birthday Marvels and Meltdowns Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-26)

'The opportunities they give the children and the parents is amazing.'

Two of Vicky's children are supported by Meltdowns and Marvels.

She added: 'It makes you feel less isolated.

'You know you're not on your own and you can talk to someone.'

Pictured is: Marvels and Meltdown staff get into the spirit on the photographers stand Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-20)

As well as a DJ and face painting fun, children at the birthday party enjoyed a magical performance from Chubby's World of Magic.

There was also a blow-up bouncy castle and climbing equipment, as well as a fun photobooth with hats, glasses, and scarfs.

Each child was given a party bag to take home.

Marvels and Meltdowns manager Nikki Martin said: ‘They don't have to do anything they don't want to do, it's not as structured as a typical party.'

Shandrika added: 'The smiles on their faces and their belly laughs – they absolutely love it.

‘This was funded by the Eight Foundation – we're really lucky and grateful.'

Pictured is: William and Isabel Youngs with Henry Wilson Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-3)

Several team members from the Eight Foundation visited the party, as well as volunteers from local group Loud and Proud.

Ian Riggs, Eight Foundation founder, said: 'It's amazing. The whole purpose of the fundraising is to capture money and distribute it - it's all about giving back to the people who wouldn't normally get it.

'Quite a lot of these kids get alienated and we don't want anyone to get left out.

'It feels great - it's really heart-warming.'

Victoria Riggs, manager of the foundation, added: 'We support local small charities and individuals, and we have funded this party every year.

'We've also funded the new boiler and soft play for the new centre. We try to get involved as much as we can.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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Pictured is: Children were entertained by Chubby’s World of Magic. Picture: Keith Woodland (131121-16)