I am finally sharing the post about Kate's heartwarming engagement earlier today. With apologies for the tardiness, it was almost completed when another commitment arose. The Princess stepped out to join a family portage session at a specialist centre in Sittingbourne, Kent.
The visit coincides with the National Portage Association's 40th anniversary this year. I saw several comments on social media concerning the term "Portage". Many of our readers across the pond will recognise the name of the town in Wisconsin. That is indeed the inspiration for the name. In Portage, a scheme was piloted involving home-visiting educational services for children with special educational needs at a very young age. The model focused on family, structured learning and child-led play proved incredibly successful and was adopted in the UK in the 1970s, leading to the establishment of the National Portage Association.
The model of support is considered especially effective in early years settings .The engagement was chosen as one of several the Princess will carry out in the run-up to Christmas as part of her Shaping Us campaign. A key element of Kate's early years work has been an emphasis on our "relationships, experiences and surroundings" in our earliest years and the role they play throughout our lives.
Kensington Palace said: "Providing strong support for children, parents and carers during these years is essential and can have a life-changing impact - this is never truer than for those families caring for children with special educational needs".
During a conversation with a father, Kate recalled her very difficult experience with Hyperemesis gravidarum.
'Steve Ikebuwa, a father-of-four from Gravesend, whose 11-month-old son Nathan has profound learning difficulties, explained how the Kent Portage Service, which ran the session, had helped with his child’s development.
He further revealed that – like the Princess – his wife had suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum, a type of morning sickness that causes severe vomiting during pregnancy. “I went through that. I know what that feels like,” she told him.
The mother-of-three was taken to hospital in 2012, when she was pregnant with Prince George, and later revealed in a podcast that she was “not the happiest of pregnant people”.
Mr Ikebuwa, 44, said later that his reference to the condition had “ struck a chord” with the Princess, adding: “You can see her expression change – she went through the same thing.'
At one point, Kate sat on the floor with a group of little ones.
Hello! reports: "She is very sweet," Kate said of one little girl Skylar, who is almost two and was spreading foam over herself".
Darling three-year-old Beatrice having a ball during the royal visit.
Adorable Darcie was joined by Kate in pouring colourful squares into cups.
A smiling Kate said: "Well done. Louis' got a Darcie in his class".
'Charlotte Beer, a portage practitioner from Dover, Kent, used the service for support while raising her daughter who has autism. She said Kate “really cared about the children”.
Ms Beer said: “She was quite interested in the fact that we noticed a regression within my daughter at quite an early age and how supported I felt as a parent.
“She expressed how important it is to make sure children with special needs are supported in their first five years of life.
“You can really tell that she really cared about the children, she came and sat with some of them on the floor, talking to their parents. You can really see she cares and she wants to make a change.”
The recent Portage Impact Survey shows that Portage provides invaluable emotional support, practical advice to families and helps to form a sense of belonging and community.
National Portage Association Chair, Janet Rickman, said: "Her Royal Highness’ visit shines a vital spotlight on the National Portage Service Association. We are so privileged that The Princess was able to meet some of our Portage families and spend time learning about the work we do. This year is particularly important for us as it's our 40th year of the National Portage Association and #nationalinclusionweek2023 so it's wonderful that we can showcase Portage through the Shaping Us campaign and make sure that any parent with a child not meeting their developmental milestones knows how to access Portage support."
Kate chose familiar pieces for the outing.
Kate sported her red textured ZARA double breasted blazer.
And her Spells of Love medium twist earrings.