Children are special for they all carry within – something pure, amazing and naïve. There is a group in this magical children’s world whose diagnoses and challenges make them even more special. They have unique personalities, academic development and ways to interact with society. A child with special needs is one that requires a different kind of care and education. Depending on their condition, they are apt to interact and engage in the same activities as other children, as long as the education provided is tailored to their needs.
The Brazilian community living in Connecticut is very active and it has virtual groups ready to assist with the questions and fears that Brazilian parents of children with special needs may have. The online support that those groups offer to newly arrived families that are not fluent in English is priceless. In addition to emotional support, those groups also provide information on bureaucratic issues. One example is Mercia Ordine’s group, Brazilian Families with Special Needs Children in Connecticut.
On December 2, Claudineia Cardinali, a well-known member of the Brazilian community, also known as Pimentinha Clown, together with her husband Roberto Douches, who performs magic tricks, and a group of volunteers, hosted the fourth annual Families United in Newtown (FUN) party. FUN is a local organization designed to help bring recreational programs to families with special needs. It was founded in 2010 by Linda Jones in partnership with the Newtown High School National Honor Society Chapter, in memory of her son Tyler Jones.
In 2014, Claudineia and her husband were preparing to celebrate their first anniversary. Since they were already working with children, visiting them in hospitals, they decided to identify a group of children with special needs and host a Christmas party for them, celebrating in a noble and humanitarian manner the love that united them. The search ended when Sonia Mcnamara, a follower of the Grupo Brasileiras em Connecticut Facebook group, suggested FUN after reading a post by Claudineia on the group page.
Then, in 2014, Pimentinha Clown and her partner, magician BobbyD, touched for the first time the lives of those children, allowing them to dream, bringing them gifts, bundles of joy and hope, all spiced up with Santa Claus in person and much more.
This project is completely based on volunteerism, with help from people in the Brazilian community. It has become a wonderful tradition, highly anticipated by the children, some on the autism spectrum and others with Down’s syndrome, as well as by their parents.
Claudineia shares that some of the families have more than one child with special needs. The Christmas celebration organized by the Brazilian volunteers group is fun and a breath of fresh air for parents because their children are often not invited to parties. It is inspiring to see them happy, celebrating the holiday with delight and enjoyment.
For more information about the project and how to participate, contact Claudineia Cardinali via Facebook, or call 914-562- 0294. Come join the team of volunteers next year. I will be there!