It started with a kiss, now club is one year old

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

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.

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