An exclusive affair
19 May, 2017, Kingston, Jamaica
“One in five hundred Jamaican babies are born with Down’s syndrome,” said Sashana Thomas Tomlinson, coordinator of Jamaica Down’s Syndrome Foundation. The foundation was formed after a local doctor realised that parents of children with Down’s syndrome were not receiving the help they needed.
“Sashana called to ask if we could do something special for the families,” said Dominic Häde (Germany), a member of the Kingston advance preparation team. “We were able to open the bookfair an hour early so they could come through without the crowds of people.”
“Some of the children may not be able to cognitively function at the same level as other kids their age, but they can still enjoy books,” said Sashana. “This visit lets them look through the books and pick out ones they can enjoy.”
Several of Logos Hope’s married couples and parents dressed up in clowning costumes to greet the children as they walked through the Visitor Experience Deck. Other crewmembers used puppets to talk to the kids as they looked at the books.
Volunteers met Jaden, a young boy who struggles to express what his mind knows. “What is this?” asked a volunteer as she pointed to a lion in a children’s book. Jaden responded with an enthusiastic roar. “Do you know what this is?” the volunteer asked, pointing an elephant. Jaden smiled as he held his arm up to his face like a trunk.
After browsing through the bookfair, families were invited to a special event in the Hope Theatre. The atmosphere was relaxed, and kids wandered onto and off the stage as crewmembers sang songs and performed dramas. When the ship’s percussion group began to play, several kids joined them onstage and tried to beat their hands on the drums in time with the volunteers.
Crewmembers know the families face many challenges raising children with special needs. They hope the visit to the bookfair and the special event will make both the children and parents feel loved and valued.