Mum’s bid to help autistic children get into work making one coffee at a time

AN INSPIRED mum has shared her dreams of setting up a cafe which will teach young children with learning disabilities ‘vital life skills’. Jennie Kettell from Pangbourne was inspired to start fundraising for The Butterfly Community Cafe, following her daughter Jessica’s career aspirations of working in a cafe. For now, Jennie needs to raise GBP10,000 for a second-hand van which she’ll renovate and turn into a coffee truck.

: Day one of Reading Festival kicks off as teens get their jabs ahead of Stormzy headliner  She said: “I always wanted to help other children. I have a degree in psychology so I’ve always known about behaviour in children and how to give positive reinforcement. 

“The idea through this coffee van is to teach children with learning difficulties and autism how to function in the real world. Kids that have severe learning difficulties in school struggle to apply theoretical stuff in the classroom to real-life scenarios.  With this initiative, they will learn the skills in a real business. “My daughter gave me the idea to do this and I think she could one day help the other kids.

I want to get her involved.”  The 45-year-old needs between GBP25,000 to GBP30,000 to set up the van in full working order. This includes the cost of a van, coffee machine, a street food licence from Reading Borough Council and training packs for the kids.

Jennie said the coffee van would be used around different special needs schools across Berkshire for children aged 14 and up. ALSO READ: Unsolved: All of the missing people from Berkshire The mum said she’s experienced the stigma surrounding autism from other parents.

“A school had been set up for children with difficulties and some of parents in the local area said how they were concerned of the safety of their own mainstream children. They have learning difficulties, they’re not criminals. I thought we progressed in society.

“This can will give kids the opportunity to learn skills. Some parents think as soon as their doctor diagnoses their children they don’t want to push them and think they can’t do anything, ‘if you don’t give them the opportunities to try things, you will never know what they can do!” The coffee van will see children learn how to make coffee and interact with members of the public learning valuable life skills in the workplace.

Each child will also be treated as “individually as possible”. Jennie’s daughter Jessica is 16 years old and is Autistic and has severe learning difficulties. She was diagnosed when she was three years old.

She didn’t understand or interact very much with the world around her and had no speech. Jennie’s page adds: “Obviously, she is not alone. There are many teenagers in special needs schools across the country who are able to learn and apply skills but need extra time and patience from others to be able to do so. 

“Our coffee van, when set up, will be able to teach these students many skills that they need from an earlier age, to give them the time that they need.

Not all of these pupils will have the burning desire that Jessica has to work in a coffee shop, but this enterprise is so much more than that!”

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