by Machel Hewitt
Children with special needs
Is any parent ever truly ready for having a child? One can go to NTC classes and read all the books about parenthood and still be flummoxed come the time of birth and the ensuing months and years.
Yet for some parents whilst that is an all too familiar tale for others there is the context of the above but also knowing you are raising a child with special needs.
That scenario can be a daunting prospect for parents who may feel there is little by way of adequate support or a community to navigate this specific child-rearing experience.
Lapapo: A community and marketplace for children with special needs
Former primary school special needs teacher turned entrepreneur Anike Mlemchukwu may well be the answer to many parents prayers.
Anike established Lapapo Special Needs in 2019. Lapapo is a community and product support for parents of children with special needs. It striving to bridge the gap for those who feel support is lacking or feel it is too expensive.
“Lapapo for me was about creating a community mixed with a market place
The whole idea was firstly about creating income generation for parents. They can sell Pre-loved products that they had for their child that they no longer needed on Lapapo. Secondly for those parents who have children with special needs. They can use the website to find relevant products by need.
But ultimately it was also about trying to build the community aspect. Letting parents know: this is what you can do. This is who you can speak to. As well as showing products to support you to help care for your child.”Anike
Recognising the gap
Anike didn’t always want to be an entrepreneur. She credits her experiences working in her primary school with recognising a gap in the market for parents.
“Initially, I wanted to set up a charity or a summer camp for children with special needs. But it was only when I was in teaching that I realised how little there was out there in respect of care and love at a reasonable price for such children.
“I started with the idea of a social network for parents of children with special needs, then applied to some funding programmes but in truth I was initially rejected. I realised that bringing in the products was also crucial as unless you’re fully versed in special needs it can be very difficult to know what is useful for your child.Anike
Covering any additional need
“We offer products such as weighted therapy blankets and eczema scratch mittens which might seem simplistic but often parents arent even aware of the options like that”.Anike
Rather than pigeonhole the products to a select few special needs, the beauty of Lapapo is in its offer across the range of needs, as Anike explains “the site is there to ultimately cover anything that is an additional need”
“Whether that additional need is obesity, dyslexia, deafness, problems walking for example. It isn’t just about focusing on what people would categorise as the norm”.Anike
Get in touch with Lapapo
Fundamentally however, Anike is eager to stress that the site isnt the be and end all. She encourages any parent of a special needs child who needs support to get in touch with her first and foremost.
“I’m always keen to listen and learn from parents. I still interview parents and I am willing to offer advice and support. Regardless of the site my passion has always been working with children with special needs, sometimes all people want is an ear to listen or to be pointed in the right direction. Obviously I have the site but ultimately I’m here to do both”.
Should you be interested in finding out more about Lapapo Special Needs you can find out out more at the links below.