It started with a kiss, now club is one year old
WHEN two young love-struck adults with Down’s Syndrome were told their kissing at a youth club was “inappropriate”, their mums set up a club for adults with disabilities.
Love blossomed between Niki Wyatt and Samantha Lochrie, who both have Downs Syndrome, after they met at a youth club for people with disabilities.
But when the pair shared a kiss, they were told their behaviour was unacceptable by staff – despite Niki and Samantha both being aged over 18 at the time.
That was when their mums and full-time carers, Jackie Wyatt and Kim Lochrie, stepped in and founded a social club in Thornaby that specifically caters for the needs of disabled adults.
The JK Club, an inclusive Friday night social event for adults with disabilities, has now celebrated its first anniversary – and its founders say its going from strength to strength.
Kim, 54, said: “Niki and Samantha used to go to a different youth club.
“They’ve always been friends but they started to get together when Sam turned 18. We had a bit of a falling out with the club after they said it was ‘inappropriate’ for Niki and Sam to kiss.
“We left on the Friday and by the following Monday we had set up this club.”
Jackie, 56, said: “If you have a disability, there’s a lot of things out there when you’re young. But when you come to adulthood there’s nothing.
“When I used to go to a youth club you could have a kiss and a cuddle – why should it be any different for them?
“The other thing was, we had 23 and 24-year-olds having to go to the same place as kids.
“We knew we wanted somewhere for the adults to go, so we set it up ourselves.”
One year on and the JK Club, which meets every Friday, clearly tapped into a need has boasts over 80 people coming from all over Teesside.
Among the JK Club regulars are Niki, 30, and Samantha, 23, who are now engaged. Kim, from Stockton, said: “They got engaged three years ago come March. They needed somewhere they can go. It’s really helped with their confidence too.”
Jackie, from Thornaby, said: “It’s 18+ only and people of any disability are welcome..”
The club is held at the Robert Atkinson Centre, Thornaby, every Friday from 5.30pm to 8.30pm. Entrance is £2 and carers and parents come free. More information on www.facebook. com/jkclubthornaby.