All they want for Christmas ... 'Kids in homes need to know they're loved'

Published: Monday | December 3, 2012 Comments 0
Margaret Loney (centre), manager at the Best Care Children's Home, with some of the children.  - Ian Allen/Photographer
Margaret Loney (centre), manager at the Best Care Children's Home, with some of the children. - Ian Allen/Photographer

Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator

Giggling uncontrollably and hiding their faces, the children of the Best Care Children's Home in St Andrew were quite shy in revealing their Christmas wish list.

Afflicted with varied physical and mental disabilities, their sweet innocence shone through their timidity as they pondered what to request of Santa.

"I want a radio with earphones to listen music," stated 13-year-old Andrea.

She suddenly remembered something else and her hand shot up in the air.

"I want a Nokia," she added.

Her friends burst out in laughter.

Thirteen-year-old Jennifer* shouted: "I want a BlackBerry to call my friends and an MP3 to listen to songs!"

Ten-year-old Maria* also wanted a radio to listen to music.

Not very talkative, but with a wide smile, 12-year-old Tammy* stated that she wanted a doll.

For the boys, action figures were on their Christmas list.

"I want a Batman car," 13-year-old John* brightly shared.

"A Batman bike, a phone and a radio to listen songs," were on 12-year-old Kevin's* Christmas list.

For 36 years ,the Best Care Children's Home has been providing care and protection for children with special needs, placed there by the State for factors including abandonment and abuse.

The 53 children and adults currently at the home have varied levels of disability, including Down's syndrome, mental retardation, autism, conduct disorder, paraplegia, congenital blindness, cerebral palsy and physical disabilities.

Long wish list

The age of the children ranges from seven to 20 years, while there are adults there from 21 years upwards.

The home itself has its own Christmas wish list, which is "very long", stated Manager Margaret Loney.

"We have so many needs here, where do I start," she stated with a smile. "It takes a lot to care for special needs children."

Among the needs are dining and folding tables, computers and software for the learning centre, sewing machines for the training centre, toiletries, pampers, kitchen utensils, equipment for the cosmetology department, as well as items for the laundry room.

"We really need to get the perimeter fence reinforced and raised, and a security guard for the compound," added Loney.

But one of her greatest Christmas wishes is for parents and families to visit children they have in homes and places of safety.

"The children want to see their families more than anything. That affectionate touch, the attention, to know that they are loved and that their families still care about them. I find that it really helps when families come by. You should see how their faces light up, their whole features change when they see their parents," she stated.

*Names changed to protect identity

anastasia.cunningham@gleanerjm.com

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