Daniel and Friends Fund

Daniel and Friends Fund
The Daniel and Friends Fund...creating the platform for a stronger, more intimate special needs community

What is the Daniel and Friends Fund?

On the 23rd August 2013 little Daniel le Roux lost his lengthy and courageous battle with Leigh Syndrome, exactly one week after another little warrior, Mariele Laurie, succumbed to complications of the syndrome she suffered from, Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome. Professor Pieter Fourie, whose care of and love for Daniel and Mariele had gone over and beyond anything which might be considered fair professional expectation, was determined not to allow the heartache and devastation caused by such tragedy to go without lending itself to a higher purpose...and so shortly after Mariele and Daniel had earned their angel wings, Professor Fourie shared with Kate and Lianie, their mothers, his vision for an organisation which would provide much-needed support for other parents who might be on a similar journey. Just a few short months later, the Daniel and Friends Fund was born guided by, by this time, three special needs mothers, each symbolic of the three friends who had helped Daniel in the Biblical passage from which Professor Fourie had drawn his inspiration.

Since their launch in February 2014, the Daniel and Friends Fund (a registered non-profit organisation) and the dedicated and driven people behind it, have provided not only the emotional and psychological support often sought by parents of children with special needs, but have also committed to ensuring that these parents have had access to the necessary knowledge and training in order to equip them to care for their children in the best possible way that they can. While largely focusing on top priority issues like providing extremely affordable CPR courses, free therapy sessions, psychology-based programs for the parents, occasional donations of items/equipment necessary for caring for a child with special needs...the importance of also creating a fundamental base from which friendships and 'normalcy' can stem has not gone overlooked. To this end, the Daniel and Friends Fund mommies are often treated on special days like Mother's Day and Women's Day and, where possible, these invitations are extended to the entire family for celebrations such as Mandela Day, Christmas Day, etc.

The purpose of our blog is not only to provide the opportunity for sponsors, supporters and followers to stay in touch with the various projects and events we're busy with but also, and just as importantly, to provide an insight for others into what life entails for families on a special needs journey, as well as enlightening fellow parents to the fact that this journey need not be travelled alone...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Different Is Cool...especially in a fashion-show

On Saturday, 17th September, we officially launched our DIFFERENT IS COOL Awareness Campaign in a way that could not have been more different or more cool. It was with unrestrained excitement that an eager group of children gathered in the school hall of Curro Castle Brackenfell, intrigued by the red-carpeted "runway" of (for most) their very first fashion-show.
As they bravely made their way along the red carpet, each child revelling in the opportunity to let their uniqueness shine, the message at the heart of our event rang out loud and clear - that even though they may move a little different to most, speak a little different...breathe a little different...even "eat" a little different - their hearts' desires remain the same as any other child...to be noticed, be able to take being accepted as a given and (perhaps one of the most important) to be considered worthy of friendship.
While promoting the awareness campaign on as many platforms as possible (which has included a newspaper article and, more recently, an interview on Cape Talk Radio) the essence of our campaign has been incorporated into a short-but-informative educational program which is ideally focused on primary school children. The program lasts not much more than fifteen minutes, includes a short play, a brief presentation followed by a Q&A session (complete with prizes) and finishes off with an interactive game and can be easily slotted into a morning assembly, a holiday program or even a Sunday school schedule.
DIFFERENT IS COOL is not only focused on raising awareness for the challenges differently-abled children are faced with, but hopes to also provide neuro-typical children with the empathy and confidence to embrace difference amongst their peers.  Not to be overlooked is the effect disability often has on the siblings of children with special needs and not always being emotionally equipped to explain to friends why a little brother needs a wheelchair or an older sister still cannot speak, can sometimes lead to the sibling withdrawing and then becoming a target of bullying themselves. Having a third-party step in and help friends understand not only that difference is nothing to be intimidated by, but also perhaps the challenges a neuro-typical sibling might have to deal with, could be a life-changing intervention. 
And so with a joint-passion for bringing our message to society, our fashion-show kicked off... 
The scene was set for our superstars!
Minki Burger from Lollos Fame, who also happens to be one of our ambassadors, opened the event with a few beautifully-sung numbers, bringing emotions to the surface from the get-go.
Next up was PeterG Comedy Magician who had the children riveted to his every move...
...and the adults just as engrossed in trying to figure out his puzzling antics. 
PeterG's comedy was just as entertaining as his magic tricks and had the audience in stitches.
After a quick break, it was time for little Nina le Roux to open the runway for the main attraction.
There was no shortage of confidence and "attitude" as each child made their way along the red carpet. Claire Strumpher waves calmly at the camera, completely at home in her newly-found element.
Raymond Kidson had the audience applauding the minute he stepped onto the carpet with his enthusiastic poses and delight in having his moment.
Beautiful Layla Loos, accompanied by little brother, Daniel, makes her way gracefully down the carpet.
While the morning was indeed about embracing difference, the spotlight was not our differently-abled children's alone. Where possible siblings were encouraged to share the runway, clad in their Different Is Cool shirts, as they sometimes more than anyone else are the most genuine advocates of accepting and loving those with special needs.

Leomar Swanepoel proudly escorts his little sister, Carla, down the red carpet.

Daniel Smit and Meghan van Schalkwyk having a practice "run" with Sam

Brothers Connor, Caleb and Troy smartly colour-coded and looking smashingly handsome
The pride and protectiveness with which siblings accompanied their respective brothers/sisters down the carpet was heart-warming and so very inspirational to be a part of.  Jade Jansen and brother, Keanu, share a private giggle.

Lovely little Liza Laurie quietly sits and contemplates the morning's events

While the children were, without a doubt, the stars of the show...the talent and wonderful entertainment of Minki Burger and PeterG rounded the event off beautifully.  

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