Children with special needs don’t often get to enjoy a night out at the theatre.
“It’s usually not the kids who don’t want to go out,” explains Gabriel Lee, whose 14-year-old brother-in-law, Jonathan, has Down Syndrome. “It’s usually the parents who are worried that their kids would cause inconvenience in a public area.”
It’s why Gabriel – who co-owns and runs gluten-free cafe Jonathan’s with his wife Agnetta – was more than happy to act as the middle-man between Singapore’s Down Syndrome Association and W!LD RICE for last year’s pantomime, Jack And The Bean-Sprout!.
With the help and support of many generous individuals, 580 children, parents, staff and volunteers from 12 homes and charities watched Jack & The Bean-Sprout!, for free. The Down Syndrome Association received sixty tickets.
“We set up a booth to distribute tickets and gave out goodie bags too,” Gabriel remembers. “We sponsored cookies for all the kids!”
“Bringing the kids to a pantomime actually gives them an outlet,” he points out. “They might be a little scared or intimidated at first by what’s going on. It might take a few more pantomimes for them to get used to the idea and become more engaged.
“But it really gives these kids a chance to go out and have fun, to not just sit at home. They enjoyed themselves!”
This year, W!LD RICE will again be working with several charities to give under-privileged children and young people the opportunity to experience the magic of live theatre.
“We’re very happy to see an increasing awareness for children with special needs, like Jonathan,” says Gabriel. “It’s what drives us and gives us hope. Ultimately, we’re doing this for them, to serve their community.”