January 1, 2008

Playgroup for children with physical difficulties calls on interested parents

A local physiotherapist has established a specialist playgroup aimed at children with physical difficulties which has won funding worth over £50,000 from BBC Children in Need. The money has been awarded in recognition of the group’s potential to transform the quality of care for children with disabilities. It will provide a well-needed environment for play where parents can gain from practising advice given, and can obtain mutual support from parents in similar situations. The group is currently calling on interested parents in the local area to make contact so that all places can be filled in time for the spring term course.

Known as Playskill the group which is now in the process of achieving charity status will operate from the LeMarie Centre in Watford, which provides specialist access to a toy library, soft play and a sensory room. Playskill is aimed at children with physical difficulties aged from one to five years. Because of the specialist nature of the group, it welcomes children from Dacorum, Watford, Hertsmere, and Three Rivers. There are eight places in the group, one of which is still available for the Spring term, and three are available for the Summer term.

It has been recognised that it is often difficult for physical needs to get sufficient appropriate help. Furthermore, studies have shown that early intervention in terms of practice of skills for children with physical disabilities is known to make a huge impact on the level of ultimate handicap they suffer. Assisting at such an early stage with the practice of tasks these children need to achieve can have profoundly positive implications for their progress in the longer term. The group has a special framework of working on group communication, messy play, eating and drinking skills practice and gross-motor work, with each child having 3 set targets established with parents at the beginning of the term.

Andrea Clarke, Playskill’s founder and project leader, said; “We’re absolutely delighted to have received the financial backing that will enable us to roll this group out for three years now. We are very keen however to attract children from Dacorum who may not be aware of Playskill, and we won’t be satisfied until all places are filled. I’m encouraging interested parents to get in touch to see if their child will benefit. It’s really important that this happens now as each child will have different physical demands and we’re keen to begin purchasing specialist equipment and toys for them.”

Playskill will be staffed by an independent occupational therapist, a speech therapist and Andrea herself who is a children’s physiotherapist and by volunteers who are parents of older children with special needs including two parents from Hemel Hempstead.

Playskill will hold its first two hour session on 28/1/ 2008.