Family Activity Days
A story by Parents Inclusion Network
We provided a varied calendar of activities during school holidays, for disabled young people and their families. All our events were planned in consultation with young people and their carers to develop new experiences. We focus on health and wellbeing activities, learning new skills.
What Family Activity Days did
Delivered short breaks for young disabled people and their families during school holidays. Participants will be young disabled people, their siblings and their parents/carers. We delivered a jam packed calendar of opportunities for parents/carers and their children including -
Adventure activities programme, continued our localised sporting and leisure activities, continued our successful equine therapy work with local partners. Expanded our arts activities with new local providers, provided relaxed cinema opportunities across the region, funded family days out at local attractions, delivered more excursion’s out with Dumfries & Galloway.
All our short breaks are open to members of Parents Inclusion Network in Dumfries and Galloway. Members can self refer to our service and membership is often recommended by other services.
We offered the opportunity to participate together, to learn new skills, to meet other families and most importantly to have fun in a stress free environment. We facilitated quality time for families, created breathing space so they return home revitalised. Our programmes are planned by member suggestions. We worked collaboratively with other providers in the area to ensure what we provided complements existing provisions.
We planned to cover the sports and active leisure, Complex needs, Diversity and Under 5's priority areas. We were successful in covering Sports and Active Leisure, complex needs and diversity. Our aim for Under 5's was to build a bespoke early interventions service for younger members however due to the increased membership and demand on the service, we had in the last year we just didn't have the time or capacity to fully develop this area.
What Parents Inclusion Network has learned
We plan our short breaks well in advance with clear budgets, with every activity we planned for over the last year coming in either under or on budget. Having this plan before the holidays start means we can see where we can increase participant numbers on certain activities. We have learnt that there will be more popular activities than others so we run a booking procedure where families request which activities they would like to attend and we
then confirm which of the activities they have been booked onto.
This enables us to encourage new members to come along to their first activities with us and to prioritise families living in the local area to the activity.
Through working with a variety of local attractions we have been able to identify where is more suited to our families, in terms of accessibility, staff knowledge of disability at the venues, travel times and restrictions on participant numbers. By having this local knowledge we are able to offer our families the best experience we can at the activities and reduce any stress or anxiety they may have.
How Parents Inclusion Network has benefitted from the funding
We are always extremely appreciative to received the funding from Better Breaks which allows us to continue to be able provide our family day activities. We grow strength by strength each year because we are able to offer this service, which is unique to Dumfries and Galloway. The impact that these family day activities have on families is extremely positive as well as having a big influence on the wider community and raising awareness with the venues and other organisations we work with.
Young disabled people will choose to participate in our short breaks programme. 100% of young people will experience positive outcomes.
We organised over 40 activities throughout the year with a broad spectrum of opportunities, which were accessible for all our young people with disabilities. Activities included Sports and Leisure activities including sailing, kayaking, gymnastics, ball sports and trampolining. Nature activities with visits to the local forestry commission areas, the beach and local parks. New experiences including fishing and horse riding and visiting popular local attractions like Cocobean Chocolate Factory and Cream o Galloway adventure park. These activities were organised in several areas across the region including Moffat, Sanquhar, Dumfries, Castle Douglas and Stranraer. We also had activities outwith the region including tenpin bowling and museum visit. We ran full day acitvities to the zoo, science centre, theme park and farm parks which offered the family a big day out to look forward to during the holidays.
Many of the disabled children and young people we work with are socially isolated at school and within their local community. They lack the opportunity to make friends and maintain friendships. During our Family Days last summer one of our parents expressed worries about their child M, struggling to engage with other children on the day. She and her partner felt their M was lonely and had no friends. At school M is frequently isolated in the playground and finds playtime very stressful. His concern about venturing from his parents was clearly evident by M sitting with his parents and being unable to explore the environment or reach out to other children. Staff took the time to engage with M and introduced him to two brothers with learning disabilities and slightly older than M whom the staff member knew would be supportive and caring towards M. This helped M to feel it was safe to move away from his parents to be able to enjoy playing and exploring with the brothers. M’s parents now find it easier to encourage him out of bed and out of the house during school holidays when PIN activities are on because he knows he will feel safe, less stressed and have fun with new friends. The children now look out for each other at PIN events.
Young people and carers will report positive outcomes in terms of health and wellbeing.
We ran 20 activities including Swimming and yoga across the region, Galloway Activity Centre which allows children to do water sports and climbing, we also had regular horse riding opportunities as well as a variety of other challenging activities to give the young people a flavour of something new, local and healthy so they had the confidence to use these faculties out with the planned PIN trips. We ran a few activities with our local disability sports officers who were able to build a relationship and for the kids to meet and enjoy their activities with a future option of joining the weekly groups during term time. “My granddaughter had a fantastic time at DG1. Thank you for the activity. I was apprehensive as I am anon swimmer and water is not something I feel comfortable in, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it was a joy to see her having such fun and laughing and smiling much. She even made friends with a girl and interacted with her in the pool for about 15 mins”
After accessing Chariots of Fire a local organisation the provides pony driving to disabled people, they have been able to grow in confidence, build friendships with the staff and other participants which has allowed them to feel like they are in a safe place and has gave them the opportunity to attend the centre on a regular basis out with PIN. They have went on to volunteer their time at the centre and help others over come anxieties and barriers that they faced prior to attending. They are also now competing at pony driving competitions across the country. This is a fantastic outcome for our young people to increase their over all wellbeing.
We will see an increase in demand for short-breaks. We will see positive evaluations from both adult and young carers.
After using several methods of consultation i.e survey monkey, emails, Facebook and face to face we asked our members what it is they would like?. If they had a wish list what would they like on it. After, ruling out day trips to Disney Land Paris and a fortnight in Lanzarote . We started to look at the possibility of accommodating families a full day out at local tourist attractions and providing transport for those that had no confidence to drive further afield or didn’t have a car. We ran 5 full successful day activities with over 150 people attending each one along with transport supporting families from Stranraer and Dumfries. We have had really positive feedback from our events from both parents and young people here are just some of the feedback - “Genuinely can't say how valuable the support & the friendships in this group are... we'd be lost without you guys” “It was amazing the bus trips out and the activities. Helped a very stressed mum get out the house"
Our aim for Parents Inclusion Network is to bring people together and help parents and carers to build a network of support around them. This is something we do each and everyday and is shown by the the amazing friendships we can see develop at our cake and coffee groups, lunches and support meetings. Parents organise to go for lunch, days out and support each other away from the PIN organised events which is not only an aim for us as a charity but a massive support to parents and carers. Our Stewartry PIN group is a great example of the friendships being built and they now have there own group chat and little support group which is independent from PIN.