Thankful for the Variety Club

This week I am so, so very thankful for the generosity of the Variety Club of Australia and all the work they do to help kids with special needs.

Last night we had the pleasure of attending their annual Special Children’s Christmas Party at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre. It is an annual event where local businesses and organisations come together to put on a night of fun for kids with special needs and their families.

We went for the very first time last year – Gilbert had been invited in previous years but we didn’t feel he would have be able to cope with the event prior to then. We met up with some families we knew and he ended up having a great time.

This year was no different. The generosity that people display to make this event possible is simply mind boggling. There were staff on hand from Bunnings to help the kids do christmas craft – this year kids could choose to decorate either a Santa wooden mask or a reindeer one. My kids decided on the reindeer design and had a ball using coloured textas to decorate them.

Gilbert carefully outlined his design and then took a lot of care to fill it in – I was amused to note that there is not a mouth or nose or eyes to be seen! Matilda had two attempts as she realised that she coloured in the wrong side the first time so she returned later on and went for a rainbow theme. Aren’t they cute?

Reindeer on left and in the middle courtesy of Matilda; reindeer on the right with no facial features courtesy of Gilbert!

After the fun of craft we moved onto face painting. Matilda asked to have her face painted like a reindeer – she ended up with brown antlers painted on forehead, a red nose and black markings on her cheeks – she loved it! Gilbert asked to have his face painted like one of Ben 10’s aliens – his face was green with black circles around his eyes.

It was really cute until he saw his reflection in the mirror and then demanded we wash it off right away. We managed to talk him into keeping it on so he remained part of Ben 10’s alien force for the rest of the night!

After a quick walk around to see what else was on offer we decided to have some hotdogs, followed by a drink and then finished up with ice cream (my kids only like the best – they both walked away with Magnums!)

By this stage we had met up with some other families so we took refuge at the back of the centre and let the kids run wild. It is very loud at these events which is obviously hard for a lot of families with ASD.

While the boys were able to run out some of their energy and anxiety, for some, the rough play was a bit too much so there was a fair bit of parental intervention to help stave off full-on fights and the resultant meltdowns.

Gilbert loves rough play and deep pressure so the rough play actually settled him down (weird, I know). However, the nature of the play was seriously affecting Matilda who went into a meltdown of her own worrying that her brother would get hurt.

I had to remove her from the play and distract her by taking her to the stage to have a dance with some other friends. Dancing and singing calms her down so she ended up settling down and really enjoyed herself.

Her enjoyment was complete when Super Hubert came onto the stage. For those of you not familiar with Super Hubert, he is a Newcastle icon, a super hero who happens to be a magician, who charms the kids with silly tricks and funny noises.

I somehow ended up being in a mosh pit of kids while trying to look after her – she had moved to the front of the crowd and had to be restrained from climbing through the barricade…let’s just say I’m not looking forward to her teenage years!!!

The only way I could pry her from the performance was to let her know that her group had been called and she was due to go to the toy room. She was outta there like a flash! This is the part of the night the kids look forward to – the time when they line up to get presents and then have a photo with Santa.

Matilda was especially excited – she had never had an invitation of her own before so had not been given presents in the past. This year she was presented with a blue stuffed racoon, a silk screening set and a cord draw set. Her largesse helped ease the pain when we realised the line up to see Santa was too long so we would have to make do with a quick wave instead.

Matilda's goodies

Gilbert was similarly blessed. He chose a yellow stuffed racoon (for Delilah, he was a member of the Ben 10 alien force, remember?) and received a ball shoot activity game and a pirate building block set. After a fun night with some of his friends from school it was the icing on the cake for him – he was so well behaved and happy, it was great to see!

Gilbert's loot

It was a fantastic night and we are so grateful for all those businesses and organisations who played a role in making it happen. ย For these kids, and their families, having a night just for them is priceless. So, thank you so much for making it such a memorable evening – my kids certainly won’t forget it in a hurry!

Joining in with Kate Says Stuff’s Thankful Thursday linkup – head on over and see what everyone else is thankful for this week!

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10 Responses

  1. Daisy says:

    It sounds like they put on a great family night!
    Well done with distracting Matilda with some dancing! And then again with the presents. Those things would certainly work for us as well!
    Daisy recently posted..Because I can…

    • Kirsty says:

      Daisy, it was a great night! Luckily dancing and presents are definite winners for Matilda and even more lucky they were on hand just when I needed them last night!

  2. Sounds like a fantastic (if full on) night! Had a giggle at mosh pit girl… Better that than stage diving right? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    katesaysstuff recently posted..Thankful Thursday: A babe is born

    • Kirsty says:

      It was a great night but was definitely full on. Matilda had a very restless sleep and woke up grumpy, unwell and with conjunctivitis. She had already had a meltdown before breakfast so it was clear the night before had been too much for her. Again i was left wondering what the hell will we be dealing with when she’s a teenager – I literally shudder at the thought!!!!

  3. What a wonderful event. Your kids must have loved it!
    I agree with Kate – being in the mosh pit is MUCH better than stage diving ๐Ÿ™‚
    Sara @ Tis The Life recently posted..Thankful for being a Soccer Mum

    • Kirsty says:

      Thanks Sara! As for the mosh pit, the saddest thing was I’m so short i fitted right in (I’m 155cms so am usually towered over by 12 year olds!) but, alas, I did not share their stamina – I felt like I had a hangover when i woke up this morning, definitely feeling my age now!!!

  4. Trish says:

    I am glad your children had a great time, what a blessing from the Variety Club.
    Trish recently posted..Thankful for laughter, love and life.

    • Kirsty says:

      Trish, organisations like the Variety Club do so much for the community, don’t they? I can’t thank them enough for the generosity they showed on Wednesday night and for the fantastic time that my kids had – it was indeed a blessing!

  5. Marita says:

    Sounds like a brilliant night ๐Ÿ™‚ each year I think we will make it next year and then the horror of having to take my girls to crowded Christmas event sets in and we don’t go.

    But I’m so glad it is available for families who can go and that your family enjoyed themselves.
    Marita recently posted..Autism Hero Highlights

    • Kirsty says:

      That’s exactly what I thought when Gilbert was younger but we took the plunge last year and for the most part it works for us. Events like that are certainly meltdown material (and we also paid for it the next day with Matilda requiring a physical and mental health day!) but our two seem to cope okay and it is a great opportunity for us to catch with other parents (which doesn’t happen all that often!)

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