PlayPeace Out and About
A story by PlayPeace
PlayPeace Out and About enabled families of children and young people with additional and complex needs to take part in fun outings, sharing new experiences together across the West of Scotland. This included family outings to inclusive destinations, and a 3 night family holiday to Ayr.
What PlayPeace Out and About did
Our project delivered a range of short break activities which included an outdoor Easter Monday event with egg hunt and Meet the Easter Bunny, two trips (Sundays in May and June) with transport provided to snow tubing in Kilmarnock, a 3 night caravan break with activity passes included to Craig Tara, Ayrshire in May, and a taster session then block of six weeks ( once a week) pony trekking sessions at a local additional support needs friendly riding school in Newarthill.
Families of children and young people with additional needs took part, this included children from aged 4 to 17 with a wide range of disabilities and conditions, along with their siblings and parents/carers. Parents and carers attend the activities, but for example at pony trekking could chat to other parents whilst watching their child participate with the pony trek guide. During 2020/21 word spread about our organisation and we attracted more families to PlayPeace , usually through word of mouth or recommendations from other families. ( growing from 21 to 26 families) We developed our plans for when services could resume safely commencing outdoors from Easter.
All options were offered to the 26 families who are in contact with PlayPeace, via our private Facebook page. We were able to accommodate everyone who wanted to participate in the snow tubing trips, we allocated spaces for the pony trekking based on all who wanted to try it having a taster session then at least one other session of the 6 weeks, and nine families opted for the caravan holiday.
We developed new partnerships to adapt to circumstances , for example negotiating with North Lanarkshire Council to gain access to an additional support needs school playground for our Easter event. We pay attention to details to maximise participation - offering taxi transport for non driver eg to the Pony Trekking, arranging a special harness for one child at pony trekking, ensuring adapted caravans and early entry times at Craig Tara to help the kids settle in and adjust.
The priority areas we addressed are complex needs and diversity . All activities were rated very highly by families, particularly the holiday. Success lay in reconnecting families again.
What PlayPeace has learned
We have learned a lot about our relatively small organisation during the delivery of this project. We have learned that we are able to deal with unexpected challenges; adapting our planned original programme of outings which couldn't be delivered due to lockdown, to an alternative and viable plan to achieve the same outcomes.
We also learned that despite the pandemic we could reach out to and attract new families, mainly this happened from recommendations but we did establish a public Facebook page to promote our project and this also yielded some new families into the project.
We also built new partnerships which supported our need to deliver differently ( i.e outdoors, without having a base of our own) so we gained confidence in our organisation's ability to negotiate and build key relationships eg with Council departments.
How PlayPeace has benefitted from the funding
We absolutely have benefited from Better Breaks funding and are grateful for the opportunity to strengthen our organisation through your investment. The reputation of PlayPeace has grown as has our profile during the life of this project, not only because we could offer tangible activities for families but also we could re-establish vital social support which many other services continued to deliver remotely. It has built our capacity to confidently deliver a robust and high quality set of activities for a set of families whose children have diverse and complex needs. The support from the Better Breaks staff team has been a great asset to our organisation and assisted us to develop so thank you .
45 children and young people with complex additional needs will have had fun experiences with friends and tried out a wide range of activities including new things of their choice and a holiday experience.
We achieved the outcome in the main by providing the fun experiences, wide range of activities and new things of their choice along with an amazing holiday experience. The number of children and young people with complex needs we supported was 33, with our reduced award and the pandemic as a backdrop we are pleased to have reached and supported this many children and young people ( from 24 families)
One of the families has two children with autism of very different presentations, along with some clinical health issue. During the pandemic and missing school for a long number of months, Paul (12) was increasingly withdrawn and spending long periods of time alone playing video games in his room. His mum was also concerned about his weight and his lack of social connections. His sister (11) struggles as she presents as confident but masks her autism to fit in with classmates at mainstream school. This family participated in the snow tubing outings , pony trekking sessions and came to the Easter outing. Since participating in the project, Paul and his sister have much reduced anxiety about going out again. Paul is far more active and can run whereas before he struggled to walk a distance. His sister has made friends at PlayPeace and the family sometimes meet another family now at weekends at the park. The pony trekking in particular was something both kids enjoyed immensely being animal lovers, and had not had the opportunity to do before, both finding it a very calming experience. Overall the support brought about for the family through this project has made a big difference to their lives.
60 parents and carers will report increased social support and connections and having had fun family experiences in the process
40 parents /carers have reported having increased social support and connections gained through this project, and have participated in fun experiences with their children and young people in the process.
Through word of mouth, Max joined PlayPeace after Easter. Aged 17, he is non verbal and has autism and pica. His mum is very motivated to take him out but his age, height and developmental stage make it very difficult now as he prefers to go to swing parks and bouncy castles which are geared up for younger children. She feared he was also lonely. Through this project the difference for the family is heartening. Max has enjoyed snow tubing - as did his mum - an activity they had never tried before, he also enjoyed the pony trekking where the pony school could accommodate his height and size readily. More importantly his mum feels they have found a tribe of support, where by doing things with the other families, peer support and encouragement are on offer to make it easier to go to activities and not be fearful of being judged , and where others can share tips and experiences too.