SCCMI Summer Programme
A story by The Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments
We provided a summer activity programme for 18 children and young people with cerebral palsy and related conditions.
The physically active and challenging programme, led by therapists, provided a variety of fun activities to promote functional postural and mobility skills through participation in sports and arts, thereby enabling the children and young people’s parents/carers to get a break and/or spend time with their siblings.
What SCCMI Summer Programme did
In response to the feedback from the children and young people who participated in last year's summer programme, this year's programme integrated opportunities to explore both sport and art/photographic techniques. A total of 18 children and young people, aged 4-16 years from all over Scotland participated in the programme, with 4-9 participating in each 4-day block, Monday-Thursday, 9.15-3.15.
Highly specialist therapists led a team of experienced early years practitioners, a newly qualified psychologist and a physiotherapy student to deliver a physically challenging but thoroughly enjoyable programme of activities designed to support the children and young people's health and well-being needs. Daily opportunities to learn and practise movements and techniques associated with Boccia, tennis and/or water polo in cooperation and competition with the other participants were planned to foster not only their postural and mobility skills, strength and stamina, but also their inter-personal skills and self-confidence.
Tennis Scotland provided advice and some direct coaching and 2 former service-user volunteers assisted as coaches and umpires. Daily opportunities to explore art/photographic techniques and media were planned to foster the children and young people's fine motor skills and dexterity and to support them to express their thoughts and ideas.
All of the children and young people identified improvements in their functional motor skills and dexterity through the contexts of sports and art/photography and demonstrated e.g. greater body awareness, increased core strength, improved balance, improved upper limb coordination and dexterity, increased strength and stamina and a better understanding of the rules of the games, playing strategies, filming and editing techniques.
All communicated that they had enjoyed the range of activities provided. All demonstrated some improvement in their confidence and self-esteem. Confident that all aspects of their children's abilities and needs would be well supported, their parents/carers therefore felt able to take a break from their caring responsibilities.
Staff observations confirm that the daily opportunities to practise Boccia drills and play competitively enabled child 2 to improve e.g. her core strength, sitting balance and upper limb coordination as evidenced by the increasing accuracy of her throwing. They further reported that her ability to participate without direct adult support, spontaneous interactions with her peers, turn-taking and awareness of her own and her team's achievements are indicative of positive changes in her inter-personal skills and self-confidence.
Staff observations confirm that the daily opportunities to practise tennis drills and play competitively enabled child 5 to improve e.g. her ability to manoeuvre her wheelchair, adjust her grasp of the racket and improve her timing as evidenced by her ability to maintain a short rally. They further reported that her increasingly competitive approach and her positive self-evaluation of her efforts/achievements are indicative of positive changes in her inter-personal skills and confidence.
Staff observations confirm that the daily opportunities to practise water-polo drills and play competitively enabled child 18 to improve not only his ability to jump but also block, catch and throw the ball as evidenced by his ability to score goals for his team. They further reported that his spontaneous communication with his peers, pride in his team's achievements and resilience when splashed/submerged are indicative of positive changes in his inter-personal skills and confidence.
Staff observations confirm that the daily opportunities to practise taking and editing photographs enabled child 11 to improve her ability to e.g. maintain her dynamic balance, use her hands in combination and opposition and explore picture composition, as evidenced by the quality of the photographs she was able to take. They further reported that the creativity she demonstrated in subject identification and the responsibility she assumed for printing and displaying her group's photographs are indicative of positive changes in her inter-personal skills and confidence.
Staff observations confirm that he coped well with the general noise levels, watching, listening to and cooperating with his peers and initiating conversations. By the end of the placement he was able to sustain his engagement with his team even when his parents and siblings were present.
Child 16, who had previously participated in activities with 1 other familiar child and the direct support of a familiar adult, moderated her responses to engagements with unfamiliar children and less familiar adults. She initially identified that she was "not sure" about any of the daily activities. At the end of the placement she indicated that both tennis and art activities made her "happy" and that water-polo "was fun".
Staff observations confirm that she demonstrated improved social skills, e.g. tolerating physical assistance and sharing equipment, demonstrating self-regulation of her behaviours and requiring less 'time-out' from group activities.
What The Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments has learnedThe value of competitive team sports in supporting children and young people's health and well-being, as articulated by the GIRFEC SHANARRI indicators (safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible and included) and promoting the 4 capacities of Curriculum for Excellence, (successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens) was confirmed. The fund enabled the purchase of a variety of sports equipment and thereby the participation of all of the children and young people in boccia, tennis and/or water-polo in spite of the limitations of their additional support needs.
The importance of high staffing levels in e.g. the provision of a wide variety of activities to small groups and frequent direct therapeutic interventions was confirmed. Funding for additional staffing enabled both 1:1 input and parallel activities to be integrated into the daily programme.
Parents/carers' demand for and appreciation of accessible high quality and engaging activities for their children, planned and delivered by familiar, skilled professionals and provided outwith normal school/clinic hours was confirmed. A majority noted, informally, that they would welcome more frequent and/or extended opportunities for their children to participate in such activities over the summer schools' closure.