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Kicking off the Summer Holidays with a Mermaid Sensory Session

Hi Sunshine News readers,

To kick off the first week of the Summer holidays, we hosted one of our ever-popular Sunshine Families event – and what a success it was! We put on a mermaid / sea-themed sensory play day at Cruddas Park Surgery, who kindly let us use on of their rooms.

We put on a selection of different activities such as a ‘beach’ (sandpit made from flour, oil and food colouring), a ‘sea’ (blue gloop made from cornflour, water and food colouring), a paddling pool filled with ‘seaweed’ and ‘seashells’ (pasta), ‘pearls’ (Orbeez), and ‘Ursula’s cauldron’ (Glitter Gelli Baff).

We also had a tent and mat with access to a whole range of sensory play items, ‘seashell discovery’, a cake/biscuit decorating station, a themed craft/colouring area and hook-a-shark.

LOTS OF FUN: Different activities to take part in at the mermaid sensory session

Fun was had by all and it was a perfect opportunity for kids to get dressed up, take part in fun activities where price, accessibility and inclusion aren’t barriers. There were a range of activities so there was something for everyone!

DRESS-UP TIME: Mermaid costumes

But why are our family events so important? A recent study by the BBC found that ‘9 out of 10 families have been able to find a suitable holiday club or activity for their disabled child this summer’. For many children with additional needs, school and nursery offers structure to their lives, which often means that school holidays can be particularly challenging for those families, as this structure goes.

I spoke to one PA who was a first-time attendee of a Sunshine Families event, who told me how difficult the family had found it to find events where they felt welcome and not judged, so were thrilled to find an event where the child could be themselves and have fun in a comfortable environment.

JOINING IN: Some of the children getting involved

Our family events are so important because we provide free activities in accessible venues, with activities suited to their needs. It allows our Sunshine Children to create special memories with their friends and family, and feel included.

Families can come for as long as they want, or dip in and out, as we understand that some children can find some activities overwhelming. It also gives parents/carers a chance to speak to us to see how we could help them, as well as meeting and spending time with other parents.

I spoke to Rachel, one of our long-term attendees of Sunshine Family events, who brought her son, Daniel, along to the sensory session. They have attended many of our events and she was telling us how she found long-term friendship after coming along to our Easter trip to the Centre For Life – another reason why our events are so important, as it builds a community for like-minded parents.

“For 6 years I was by myself and hadn’t found anyone else in Newcastle with a child who had Craniosynostosis. Even when applying to other charities there’s very little about Daniel’s condition. However, I met someone at Centre For Life whose child had the same condition and we’ve become really close, we see each other all the time now and it’s nice to talk to someone who just gets it.”

SO MUCH FUN: Mermaid soup and hook-a-shark

Following the success of this week’s event, we’re now even more excited for our upcoming event in August: we’re thrilled to be hosting a beach day at South Shields for our Sunshine Families! There will be opportunities for families to book on to activities such as surfing / adaptive surfing, courtesy of the highly professional instructors at South Shields Surf School, as well as beach explorers / rock pooling, and just a chance for families to enjoy.

We are also working with Beach Access North East who will be providing a selection of beach-friendly wheelchairs! This will allow some of our kids to get on to the beach, and for some, it’ll give them the opportunity to go into the sea for the first time. Our Family Co-ordinator, Bev, went down to visit them the other week and we can’t wait for some of the kids to test them out!

GREAT ADDITION: Beach Access North East wheelchairs

Our family events are so important for both of our Sunshine Children and their families, and we love putting them on. However, as a small charity who receive zero statutory funding, we rely on the generosity of donations from supporters and funders to allow us to continue putting on these events, and to ensure that we can make them fun and varied, whilst remaining free of charge to attendees.

We are over the moon to announce that we have received funding from both The Henry Smith Charity and The LGA Foundation for our beach day in August, and we cannot thank them enough for contributing towards what we believe will be a truly memorable day for our families!

Thanks for reading!

Sophie X