By Renee Bogatko, Image Credits – supplied
A Canberra café is doing its bit to bring smiles to the faces of kids with special needs and their families.
Tommy & Me inn Macgregor, run by mum and daughter team Glenda and Angela Weatherill, have started opening the shop on Tuesday’s to special needs kids and their parents/carers.
They host a drop in session from 10am-12pm, where parents can take their kids to a relaxing space to play and not feel out of place or judged.
“Many kids have conditions with no physical signs. It’s hard to get people to understand when they haven’t experienced it themselves. Even simple things that others take for granted, like going to a café for a coffee, are hard work and sometimes not just worth the effort,” Angela said.
“Since we are closed for business on Tuesday’s, we thought we could open for a couple of hours and let some of our beautiful special kids come along and play.”
Angela, whose nephew was recently diagnosed with Autism, said it’s also a space where parents and carers can connect.
“It’s so worrying that so many parents feel isolated and alone with their child and their diagnosis, it’s very sad.”
The customers who’ve attended so far have kids with varying mental and physical conditions.
They’re thrilled to be able to take their kids to a place where they all feel comfortable.
One happy customer wrote this review…
“We just went to the Tommy & Me café for this opening. The staff were so lovely! My son aged 3 loved being a big boy being able to go to a café. He feels so comfortable there and loved being able to order his own food and drink.”
“I met another mother there. It was so good to get to know another mother and to be able to have a conversation. I loved being able to go to a café like a normal person, know that my child was safe and that there was no judgments.”
“It was the most relaxing time I have ever had with my son at a café. Highly recommend to everyone. Come and try this session. It is so worth it.”
Angela and Glenda are keen to create a more structured program, including music and craft time, but they’ll wait to see what kind of interest it generates.
“We would like to run this session weekly, fortnightly or monthly, depending on demand,” Angela said.
“It would be fantastic if we could be a bright spot in someone’s day and make their lives a little easier and more pleasant, even just for a couple of hours.”
To find out when the sessions are on and what else is happening at Tommy & Me, keep an eye on their Facebook page!