Night to dream about for years to come
Picton's EcoWorld Aquarium held its third annual Dreamnight at the Aquarium for chronically ill and disabled children in Marlborough.
During the free event, 24 children with a disability and their families took a private tour of the aquarium and enjoyed a barbecue on Friday.
CSS Disability Action child and family services co-ordinator Derek Quigley was at the event with his 15-year-old autistic son.
"He loves it, marine life and the sea, anything to do with fishing or fish, so this has just been a blast for him.
"Dreamnight is about bringing families together to talk and support each other. It provides an environment where they can relax and not be worried about their children.
"Families with disabilities can be part of the community. We don't want the children to feel isolated, so this is a great chance for them to meet new friends."
EcoWorld owner John Reuhman said it was a pleasure to give the group a private tour of the aquarium and he hoped they all enjoyed themselves.
"It's hugely gratifying, it's just nice to do something for the community - they're a lovely bunch of kids."
EcoWorld is the 210th member of the Dreamnight at the Zoo global project, established at Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands in 1996.
Henry Vilas Zoo in Wisconsin, United States, will be the newest member when it joins next year.
Bohally Intermediate pupil Michael Stringer, 11, said his highlights were feeding the fish and touching turtles, because they were his favourite creatures.
"It's been awesome, it was funny watching the fishes fight for the food."
Springlands School pupil Tahlia North, 8, said she had lots of fun and was excited to hold an Australian blue-tongued skink.
The evening was a good chance to make friends and meet new people, she said.
Seddon School pupil Keegan Dredge, 10, said he enjoyed the tour. He had visited the aquarium before and thought it was "very cool".
All the children wanted to say a "big hello" to their friends and family.
The Marlborough Express