When Georgia was born in 2011, I had 30 blissful worry free minutes as I cradled my perfect baby daughter in my arms before I entered a world of huge uncertainty and anxiety. With a larger than average head, Georgia was immediately taken for tests and so we entered a world of regular hospital visits.

Over the next couple of years more and more problems became apparent as she was diagnosed with a very rare problem with her eyes and a kidney condition. An MRI scan detected brain abnormalities and, on top of these, it was clear that her development was delayed.

Within a very short period of time we had to come to terms with the fact that Georgia clearly had significant problems and we found ourselves in a position that we were completely unprepared for. With no specific diagnosis, there were no support groups available to us. So, as her mother and being with her 24 hours a day, I found myself increasingly shutting myself at home with Georgia not wanting to face the outside world. On occasion, I did brave the local mother and baby groups but found myself wanting to just run away from them and burst into tears. The stark contrast between Georgia and the other children was very apparent and other parents were staring and, without meaning to, passing judgement. I just couldn’t find anywhere where we felt comfortable as a family.

We are now regular visitors to Swings & Smiles and it has transformed our ability to play as a family.

When we heard about Swings & Smiles we were one of the first families to visit them when they opened at The Phoenix Resource Centre. It was such a relief to be able to take Georgia and half sister somewhere they could play together in an environment that was suitable for both of them. We found ourselves able to be a ‘normal’ family without worrying about what other people were thinking and being self conscious – which is how we had always felt previously. We have got to meet families who are in similar situations to us and, as a result, feel less isolated.

We are now regular visitors to Swings & Smiles and it has transformed our ability to play as a family. Georgia, her sisters and their new friends enjoy all of what’s on offer at Swings & Smiles and, in particular, the messy play sessions!

Amanda Walburn-Green,
Georgia's Mum

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