By Alesha Capone
A Wyndham family is urging residents to get behind a charity named Friend in Me (FIM), which brings happiness to the lives of many children.
Michelle and Ashley Edwards have five children aged between three and 13, who all live with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The family’s youngest, Lillian – an “active, cheeky girl” – was hospitalised at 15 months old.
Lillian, who was born with larngomalacia, underwent surgery to fix her airways.
After the operation, Lillian ended up in intensive care, battling influenza type A and parainfluenza.
This led to Lillian being isolated, unable to be visited by her wider family, so that the illnesses would not spread.
During this time, FIM delivered art supplies for Lillian to make a Father’s Day gift for her Dad.
The charity aims to promote social inclusion and acceptance in children through sensory-friendly events, workshops and online programs.
Ms Edwards said the FIM present made Lillian “so happy”.
“We were stuck in her hospital room for days and she was so emotional,” Ms Edwards said.
“It was the biggest smile she had shown in days.”
Since then, Lillian’s siblings have attended FIM events including a party for another mother involved in the organisation, Grace Errante.
“It meant so much to the children who aren’t invited to birthday parties often,” Ms Edwards said.
“They got to have fun with other kids who felt the same, whilst being equals and having important social interaction.”
Because the pandemic has caused FIM’s usual fundraising activities to be cancelled, the charity has launched a campaign called #igiveacup to help raise $10,000.
People are being encouraged to donate $5.20 per week to assist FIM, instead of buying a coffee.
“I would encourage people to donate to #igiveacup because of the amazing and tireless work Louise (FIM’s chief of inclusion) and her team,” Ms Edwards said.
“I would like to not just thank the team behind FIM, but all of the small businesses and donors who rally to support the cause, and donate time, financially and services.”