Mum on a mission
In May, Rebecca Lucking stepped down as president of Mama. Not such a big deal, except for all that she gave to the island as the charity’s head.
Perhaps the most obvious is WindReach Recreational Village’s Boundless Playground, which opened in June. Ms Lucking spearheaded the $350,000 fundraising effort.
“We didn’t realise how well received it would be; I think we got bogged down in the project itself,” she said.
“But we did impact other lives for the better.”
Originally from the UK, Ms Lucking joined the Meet a Mum Association in 2013 shortly after her son, Theo, was born.
“I joined the group when Theo was a baby,” she said.
“I didn’t know many people and I didn’t work, so I joined Mama to make friends with babies the same age.
“When I first moved here, there was not an awful lot for really young kids to do. As we got more creative with events, Mama got more and more popular.
“The great thing about Mama is that it’s a great resource for people with young children who are all on the same schedule.
“If your baby naps twice a day, it’s hard to get out and meet people. I became their social secretary and eventually became president in 2016.”
The charity is designed for parents with children aged five and under.
It holds parties at various celebrations through the year, Christmas, Easter and Hallowe’en, and hosts a support group for mothers with post-partum depression.
Apart from that, car boot sales, wine tastings and other events offer its approximately 300 members a chance to socialise.
“We eventually started a playgroup at WindReach,” she said. “While visiting the playground, I thought it really needed fixing up, but WindReach didn’t have the financial resources.”
Its focal point was a tree house that had seen better days. While in England, Ms Lucking visited “really cool adventure playgrounds” and thought it a shame that there was not something similar here.
“I wanted to give them an accessible playground — lots here aren’t and they aren’t inclusive either. There are lots that [children who are physically challenged] can get to but once they get there, there’s nothing for them to do.
“I wanted a tree house with a wooden feel with big ramps that led to places [that were exciting].
“There’s no point being in a wheelchair and wheeling to the end of a ramp. If you can wheel to a room with sensory play, it makes it a much more rewarding experience.
“If you’re in a wheelchair or are visually impaired, if you have a baby in a stroller, you realise how difficult Bermuda is to manage.”
It became obvious that the Warwick playground needed a complete overhaul rather than a repair.
Ms Lucking got to work researching and reading about accessible playgrounds around the world — and began fundraising.
Cash was raised through bake sales, wine tastings and other events; Brit Insurance’s $50,000 seed began the corporate donations.
WindReach officially opened Boundless in June.
British adventure play specialists Capco designed it to capture the island’s distinct architecture and landmarks like Fort Hamilton, Somerset Bridge and the Bird Cage.
A large adventure treehouse replaced the ageing one that was there; swings, slides, a roundabout and a trampoline are accessible to children of varying physical abilities.
Ms Lucking’s family benefited from the two-year project as well.
“For Theo it meant having access to a wider section of the community, especially as an expat,” she said.
“We tend to have friends with children of the same age, we wouldn’t come across people with special needs because they don’t go to his school.
“For Theo to see and realise that he has to think about [differently abled] people as well, that’s important. For him to go to the opening of the playground and see how [they enjoyed it] was wonderful.”
As the project neared its end, Ms Lucking decided to step down as president.
“It felt like it was time for the next generations of Mamas to bring their ideas,” she said. “The things that I’m doing for Theo now are not so appealing for the five and under group.
“I’m also trying to start my own gin business. My husband owns a brewery in the UK and some bars in England so that will be my next project.
“I like to be creative. There’s a lot of gin on the market right now and we already have a base we can sell to.”
As for Mama, she remains grateful for the help the charity gave when she needed it most.
“Mama creates a family for those who don’t necessarily have family here. There are a lot of expats, but Bermudians are welcome as well.
“It can feel isolating when you have a baby. You’re tired, you have baby brain — you need to talk to people who are in the same boat.
“A lot of people said it was a lifeline. You can turn up at a play date with greasy hair and dirty jogging bottoms and no one will judge you.
“For me it was a job — teaching me new things, introducing me to new people and feeling I was a valuable part of the community. It gives you a sense of worth.
“I miss a lot of elements of it, but I think charitable work is stressful and I don’t miss the stress.
“It felt like a full-time job, but it isn’t a full-time job and I’ve got other things to do.
“And for all the mums involved, it’s the same thing. They might be up until 2am trying to get things organised after all the kids have gone to bed.
“I felt I needed time to sort out all the stuff I’ve been meaning to do for the last two years, but never got time to do.”
• Learn more about the Meet a Mum Association at mamabermuda.com
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