Hi Sunshine News readers, As the summer holidays are fast approaching, we wanted to focus this week’s column on our Seeds of Hope project and thank all the schools and nurseries that have taken part in its second year. Our Seeds of Hope project began in 2022 and is dedicated to opening necessary conversations around equity, diversity and inclusion in a safe and accepting environment from nursery age.
Using our charity’s image of a sunflower as a parallel, the project not only allows kids to develop planting and gardening skills, but it also encourages them to explore how our differences make us unique, and while we may all require different support and conditions to grow, we are all beautiful.
Schools that sign up to the project receive packs of sunflower seeds which they then plant, water and watch grow. It takes around 3-4 months for sunflowers to grow, and during this time, we send out newsletters to the schools involved which each focus on an individual topic.
These newsletters include classroom resources and activities to open discussions amongst the children. We’ve also put on workshops and virtual assemblies.
In addition to our charity’s ethos of ensuring all children live a fulfilling, enriched life by funding life-changing specialist, and often life-changing, equipment, we are also committed to changing conversations around disability. It's our goal to encourage our wider communities to see disability differently – not as something to pity or shun, but something to celebrate, and that’s where Seeds of Hope comes in…
By introducing topics like equity and equality, celebrating differences and promoting inclusion into the mainstream curriculum, it normalises them, like English or Maths. This is important as these children then grow up in a society which is much more integrated, so when they go on to have children, we see a generational shift.
It is often due to a lack of understanding and confusion around how to approach a subject that leads to ignorance, rather than negative or malicious views. We encourage children to ask difficult questions, challenge beliefs and ideas that don’t seem right, and feel comfortable talking to adults about these topics.
We spoke to long-term supporter of The Sunshine Fund, and teacher at East Boldon Infants School, Mrs Ali Verity, who has been heavily involved in The Seeds of Hope project. She said, “This is East Boldon Infants second year completing the Seeds of Hope project.
"As a school we fully embrace the diverse needs of others and celebrate differences as a whole school community. We talked about our sunflower seeds and how they would all grow at different rates and look different but still be unique and beautiful just like us.”
“During the project we also arranged a visit from a local author Tracey Horner who has written two books about celebrating differences as her son Toby has cerebral palsy. She shared her book ‘The Little Falcon’ with us which is a story about friendship, kindness and a little bird who couldn’t fly.”
“It’s been a pleasure completing the project - the Sunshine Fund is a charity close to my heart too as they have supported my son Rio with adaptive equipment. We look forward to continuing to support the Sunshine Fund.”
Tracey Horner is another friend of the Sunshine Fund and we have also funded equipment for her son, Toby, so we were delighted to hear that she had got involved with the project, too. You can find Tracey’s books at www.hornershappycorner.com/.
We were also thrilled to hear that Mrs Verity organised a ‘wear yellow day’ at her school, where children all wore clothing representing our charity’s colour to raise awareness and funds for the Sunshine Fund. In two years, 50 schools and over 8,000 children have signed up to be part of the campaign. We’ll be planning even more for next year’s Seeds of Hope project, and we hope to see many of the schools return for our third year!
We hope that everybody who is off over Summer has a lovely break, and keep your eyes peeled for our events taking place over the holidays. For example, next week we have a sea-themed mermaid sensory session, and on Friday 25th August we will be soaring down the Tyne on our Sunshine Zipline – all to raise money to fund life-changing equipment for local children living with disabilities, additional needs and terminal illnesses. End the Summer on a high(!) and take on this unique, unforgettable challenge.
Places are flying out(!) but we still have limited availability left. Find out more at www.thesunshinefund.org/zipline or contact Siobhan at Siobhan.Sargeant@thesunshinefund.org to book a place.