What do we do now?

21 Jul, 2017 :: Nassau, The Bahamas

‘What do we do now?’ Logos Hope crewmembers wondered when they arrived at The Bahamas Down Syndrome and Friends Centre and found that the programme they had prepared did not quite meet the needs of the audience.

The team members had come ready to work with children with Down’s syndrome, but were surprised upon arrival to find that half of the kids in the summer programme have the condition, while the other half have been diagnosed with autism.

Erin Wochner (USA), who is visiting Logos Hope on a short-term team to learn more about the ship’s work, has a twelve-year-old brother with autism and is employed by the state of Arizona as a certified caregiver for children with autism and Down’s syndrome. “Autism is like a rainbow with each child being placed at a different spectrum of abilities,” Erin told her fellow teammates. Through Erin’s insight, the volunteers determined which activities would meet the needs and interests of all the children, and reorganised their programme.

The crewmembers laughed and played with the children as they coloured pictures, danced and sang, and ran around during an outdoor break time. Ruthanne Teo (USA), another member of the short-term team, enjoyed chasing the kids around the playground. “I kept telling the kids God loves them, and they would nod and say, ‘I know’,” smiled Ruthanne.

As those in the team evaluated their experience after returning to the ship, they talked about the new things they had learned about working with children with autism and Down’s syndrome. ‘I wish we could have more training on working with kids with special needs!’ was the group’s unanimous consensus.

With the support of the short-term team’s onboard coordinator, Janice Low (Singapore), Erin has agreed to run a training session for crewmembers to teach them more about interacting with children who have additional challenges so that ship teams can be even better prepared for future connections and opportunities.

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The vessel Logos Hope is currently visiting:
Nassau, Bahamas

where the local time is 6:41 PM

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