All Harry Brinkworth wanted to do for his 11th birthday was to go bowling with his friends.
That isn’t much to ask for, but his plans were quickly squashed when the two people he invited let him know that they weren’t coming, news that devastated both Harry and his mom, Hannah Brinkworth.
“I mentioned to him that I needed to know what friends he wanted to come to his party so I could send invites,” Hannah said. “He said two names, but when I asked again he said they weren’t allowed to come. I said I didn’t understand, and he turned around and, at 10-years-old, said one had told him their mum doesn’t like him and they can’t play with him.”
Heartbroken and frustrated for her son with autism, Hannah shared their situation on Instagram where she asked for people to send Harry birthday cards to cheer him up.
“I found it absolutely baffling — it’s not the kids’ issue, it’s the parents’ lack of understanding about Harry’s issues,” she said. “It’s not discussed enough how parents talk about kids with additional needs or SEN (Special Educational Needs) issues, and they don’t understand the impact of what they say in front of their kids, which is then repeated — it’s unacceptable.”
Not only did her story resonate with strangers in her town, but it also reached those in Dubai, New Zealand, and Canada — more than 400 of them, to be more precise.
“I wish I could share every single message,” she said. “They’ve all been so touching, beautiful, and so gratefully received. There’s hundreds of cards, but he’s been through every single one… read and reread.”
But the kindness of strangers didn’t end there! As Hannah’s social media post took off, several local families reached out and asked if them and their children could get an invite to the bowling party.
At this point, they only expected family members to show up. But thanks to some people from school, family friends, and total strangers, around 30 children ended up showing up to Harry’s party — that was enough people to fill five lanes!
“It was the best birthday I’ve ever had,” Harry said.
Hannah couldn’t be happier that her son got the kind of birthday he’s always wanted, and she hopes that the people who hear Harry’s story recognize that his story is just one of many.
“He understands the bigger picture of it, and he knows why it’s important and it’s not just him,” Hannah said. “After today, the conversation will continue and so it should – that’s the important part.”
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