CHILDREN with special needs in Labasa can now experience the same fun-filled childhood that their normal friends enjoy, thanks to the Special Support Playgroup.
The Ministry of Health's Mental Health Project officer, Leonie Shawcross, said their work in the past 12 months had been well supported with up to 12 children regularly attending their newly-formed group.
Ms Shawcross said their playgroup worked closely with children who had special needs.
"The disabilities of the children vary from mild intellectual through to severe intellectual and physical challenges," she said.
"All children are assessed on a developmental scale (without an age expectation) and parents are set weekly tasks to help children develop a new skill at the individually assessed stage.
"The children enjoy the social interaction, games and music during the session and their parents help each other and play with children as a group."
Ms Shawcross said an advantage of the group was that parents of children with special needs shared each other's experience, also exchanging advice and support which was really important.
"Our staff have also developed a register for the young students and we are currently developing easier developmental guidelines for staff to follow.
"The commitment of the Labasa Special School staff has been very encouraging and recently a decision was made by the head teacher to employ a new teacher for the group.
"This has been a very big step into the sustainability of the group and the school is to be commended."