Six-year-old autistic boy Jack Reisima now has friends he can play with.
They don't make fun of him if he takes a long time to answer a question, because they're just like him.
Jack's mother, Ellen-Marie Carpenter, has watched him flourish since attending the after-school programme run by Rainbow Umbrella Charitable Trust.
"It's basically one of the only places he can socialise and feel comfortable because there are a lot of children there like himself. In the mainstream setting, kids like mine are bullied; they're picked on and made fun of."
However, despite winning this year's national award for outstanding programme, the trust may have to close because of funding cuts.
With annual operating costs of $192,000, the trust needs about $132,000 from outside sources to stay open.
Since opening in 2009, its main funding has come from the Social Development Ministry under the Enterprising Communities and Community Response Fund.
Programme manager Jeannine Bainbridge said the funding options were no longer available. The trust had tried for a variety of community grants, and written to Government ministers, but without success.
It needed $18,000 to keep running until the end of the year, and would have to shut if it could not secure funding by November.
"This will leave disabled children with no other option for after-school care as they are often turned away from mainstream programmes because they have high needs."
It is the only programme of its kind in Hawke's Bay and one of just a handful providing after-school care to children with disabilities.
Mainstream operators do not face the same funding issues because they do not have the same staff-to-child ratios.
The trust has at least one staff member to two children, while other operators often have a ratio of one to 10.
Ms Carpenter doubted her son would cope in mainstream care. "My little boy, if you put him in mainstream care with no fences, he'll be down the road because he's a bit of a MacGyver."
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