Swansea mother urges support of #Team20 campaign
The mother of a 21-year-old man from Killay, in Swansea, is urging the public to get behind a charity’s 20th anniversary campaign after it supported her son when he was just 8 years old.
Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, recently launched its #Team20 campaign to celebrate its foundation in 2000.
Throughout 2020 Caudwell Children is encouraging people to engage with the charity in a number of ways, like taking part in a fundraising event, volunteering for the charity, or raising awareness of its services, in order to join their #Team20.
Edward Cassidy was diagnosed with autism at an early age. He is non-verbal and had limited social skills when his mother, Karenza, contacted the charity in 2007.
Caudwell Children agreed to support Eddie and over an 11-year period Karenza says the charity had a positive impact on her son’s life. As she explained: “My son began to access the community on a regular basis and he started to enjoy going to the countryside.
“He even started having surfing lessons, which was amazing! The support that the charity has given Eddie has helped him to lead as happy, active and independent life as possible.”
Karenza, aged 50, also benefited from Caudwell Children’s Family Services programme, designed to offer help, advice and emotional support to parents.
Eddie and Karenza, were also special guests at the official launch of Caudwell Children’s £18 million autism centre in Staffordshire, England, in 2019.
The Caudwell International Children’s Centre is the UK’s first purpose built facility dedicated to the assessment, support and research of neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism.
The pair were invited to the launch in recognition of 11 years of support for Eddie from the charity.
Over 150 guests, including families, donors, academics, celebrity ambassadors and associated stakeholders, were treated to a drinks and canape reception before they enjoyed a series of speeches and presentations in front of a ‘Thank You’ wall at the centre, designed to recognise those who have supported the charity.
“It was incredibly exciting to see the new Caudwell Children’s International Centre with Eddie, who is now a young adult with autism,” explained Karenza. “When my son was diagnosed 18 years ago nothing like this existed. Eddie had to endure a bleak, clinical environment that felt quite uninviting and not suitable at all for the harrowing assessment and diagnosis that he experienced.”
Having visited the Centre Karenza believes that it will have a huge impact on the lives of autistic children and their families. She said: “When we arrived at the centre last week, my son was a little overwhelmed by the amount of people who attended the launch, so we proceeded to the fantastic sensory garden where he quickly calmed down.
“He thoroughly enjoyed exploring this fabulous facility and after his time in the garden, which he was reluctant to leave, we visited the music area and Occupational Therapist suites which were also impressive.
“Every detail is so well-thought out, so autism friendly, and the beautiful green surroundings were a bonus. I’m sure if I’d had access to a centre like this for my son it would have started our journey with purpose and hope.”
Eddie celebrated his 21st birthday recently and Karenza was delighted with her son’s involvement ahead of the big day. As she exclaimed: “He planned his own party, wrote his own guest list, designed his very own Lion King cake, and even made some playlists on Spotify, he’s doing so well now.”
Kerenza is encouraging the public to get behind Caudwell Children’s #Team20 campaign. As she concluded: “I’d urge people to get involved in any way as even a small amount will contribute in helping families out there who need support.
“It’s incredible how much it costs to raise a disabled child and people need to be aware how difficult it is for charities to raise the funds that they need to help families like mine.”
Trudi Beswick, CEO of Caudwell Children, is delighted by the family’s appeal. She said: “It only seems like yesterday when we agreed to support Eddie.
“He’s defied the odds over the years and it’s wonderful to see how he’s developed his relationship with Karenza.
“With the public’s help we can support even more disabled children and young people like Eddie.
“You can get sponsored to run 20 miles, bake 20 cakes to sell at work, volunteer for us for 20 hours, or you could do a sponsored 20-minute static cycle ride to join our #Team20.
“Whatever it takes I want people to get involved in this campaign in what is a very special year for the charity.”
For more information on how you can get involved in Caudwell Children’s #Team20 campaign visit the website here.