On Wednesday morning, the Princess of Wales, Catherine, continued her campaign for early years support in Kent. She participated in a portage session for families with children who have
special educational needs.
The visit to The Orchards, organized by the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, aimed to "highlight the importance of support for neurodiversity in early childhood." During her visit, Catherine joined a play session with seven children, all of whom have varying special needs, including autism, Down Syndrome, and social communication difficulties. Catherine interacted with the children, engaged in play, and had conversations with their parents and the portage practitioners who support these families.
Portage, as defined by the Centre for Early Childhood, offers educational services to children with special needs or disabilities from birth to preschool age. Catherine's visit was an opportunity for her to learn more about the National Portage Association and the crucial work they do.
Charlotte Beer, who was present during the visit, spoke about the Princess's genuine support for special needs children during their first five years of life. She remarked, "You can really tell that she really cared about the children, she came and sat with some of them on the floor, talking to their parents. You can really see she cares and she wants to make a change."
Stephen Ikebuwa, a father among the parents Catherine met, shared that he had a meaningful conversation with the Princess about his wife's experience with hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition Catherine also faced during her pregnancies. Ikebuwa expressed, "You can see her expression change; she went through the same thing. I remember one of her visits in a hospital she said something about how she had hyperemesis gravidarum. You can see her connection to the fact that my wife went through all that, and that really resonated with me."
Following Catherine's visit, the Centre for Early Childhood posted on social media: "A fun-filled sensory session in Sittingbourne meeting incredible portage staff and the families they support. A truly wholesome afternoon!"
This visit underscores the Princess's commitment to early childhood support and her dedication to making a positive impact on the lives of children with special needs and their families. Photo by The Royal Navy, Wikimedia commons.