SCCMI Summer Programme
A story by The Scottish Centre for Children with Motor Impairments
We provided a 4-day group summer activity programme for up to 30 children and young people with cerebral palsy and related conditions.
This physically active and challenging programme, led by therapists, aimed to provide fun activities to help improve the children and young people’s functional postural and mobility skills, enabling their parents/carers to get a break and/or spend time with siblings.
What SCCMI Summer Programme did
Using the Rio Olympics and Paralympics to inspire the participants, during August 2016 we provided a sports-based summer programme for 21 children and young people, aged 3-15 years, with cerebral palsy and related conditions from all over Scotland, with 10 participating in each 4-day block, Monday-Thursday, 9.15 until 3.15.
Highly specialist therapists led a team of experienced early years practitioners, therapists and young volunteers to deliver a physically challenging but thoroughly enjoyable programme of activities designed to support the children and young people's health and well being need. Daily opportunities to learn and practice movements and techniques associated with swimming and/or boccia in cooperation and competition with children and young people of mixed ages were planned to foster not only their postural and mobility skills, strength and stamina, but also their inter-personal skills and self-confidence. 2 former service-users assisted as coaches and umpires.
All of the children and young people who participated in water-based activities achieved improvements in the distance they were able to walk or swim and/or the speed at which they were able to do so. All achieved improvements in a variety of the physical skills associated with boccia, e.g. intentional grasp and release, upper limb mobility and control, core strength and dynamic sitting balance. A majority demonstrated an increased understanding of the rules of the game and playing strategies. All reported that they had enjoyed the activities provided and a significant majority identified improvements in both their physical abilities and confidence.
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. A majority reported that they had valued the daily opportunities to spend some extended time with their other children.
Her increased lower limb control and strength and consequently improved swimming technique was evidenced by the pace at which she was able to swim a length of the pool (10.5 metres): 38 seconds on day 1, 22 seconds on day 4, an increase in speed of 42%.
On day 1 of her placement she had circled an expressionless face to indicate that she was not scared but did not feel confident in the water; on day 4 she circled a smiling face to indicate that she felt very confident.
Over the course of his placement he was, as a consequence, able to identify improvements in his abilities in other contexts, e.g. he was "a little bit faster running", able to "throw the discuss further" and better at "throwing balls into a bucket".
On day 1 of his placement he had circled faces with down-turned mouths to indicated that he was anxious in the water and unsure about whether or not he could play boccia; on day 4 he circled smiling faces to indicate that he felt very confident in both contexts.
All of his recorded activity preferences and choices were associated with boccia in some way, e.g. "throwing balls into a bucket" and "outdoor throwing sports", as were all the improvements in his abilities that he identified: e.g. "standing still on a throwing mat" and "aiming for the jack"
On day 4 of his placement he identified that he had become "very confident" about playing boccia.
On a day to day basis she reported that the 1 thing she had done the best or improved the most was being a team player: "encouraging the others to be able to pass the ball" and "helping the little ones by encouraging them to work hard to get good results"
At the end of her placement she was able to report that she had become "very confident" about playing boccia as part of a team.
"A highlight of our summer holidays - great for my son to do lots of activities with other children with similar physical challenges . Also provides our family with respite and allows us to do differnt things with our other children."
"Kids look forward to the summer programme . . . great chance for them to meet up with friends and the massive bonus of therapy that they don't even notice. Parents even have a few hours of respite thrown in."
"Lets me engage with other parents, swapping stories, ideas and contacts."
"We don't mind travelling over 100 miles to attend!"
"Thanks all for making this happen."
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 (healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included) and promoting the 4 capacities (successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens) was confirmed. The fund enabled the purchase of e.g. a full Boccia set and thereby the participation of all the children and young people to play a paralympic sport 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 or 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 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.