Kiera's parents met at school and were childhood sweethearts. Kiera is the couple's only child and they do not have any family who live close to them. Kiera was first diagnosed with epilepsy when she was 8 months old and, following an MRI, it was discovered that Kiera had a brain abnormality – which came as a shock to the family.

Kiera attends Swings & Smiles on a regular basis. The family started coming to the centre for Family Play sessions before Kiera started attending on her own at our After School Club and respite sessions. Kiera can show challenging behaviours at times, which leads to the family finding it impossible to go to other locations such as parks. These environments are not very accessible and they struggle with other people not understanding Kiera. Before the family was able to access Swings & Smiles they felt very secluded, with nursery and subsequently school being the only places Kiera attended.

At the centre Kiera enjoys accessing the garden and sensory room. She has gained so much from being around other children in small and bigger groups and Kiera has formed great relationships with staff and volunteers. Swings & Smiles has helped Kiera cope better around other people, especially in loud or larger groups. Kiera has found different things she loves to do at the centre and has been gaining more confidence in expressing what she wants to play with.

Respite sessions have also supported Kiera in developing her emotional wellbeing. She has been supported when she has felt upset, worked through these challenging emotions and this has helped the development of emotional resilience. Respite sessions have also provided Kiera’s parents with time together as a couple, in turn supporting their relationship. Family Play sessions have also meant that Kiera’s mum has made wonderful friends through Swings & Smiles, creating a community and helping her to feel less isolated.

"Life would be awful without Swings & Smiles. I know that sounds dramatic, but I can honestly say without the support and services offered we as a family just wouldn’t cope."

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