Springwood work towards inclusive playgroup

Springwood work towards inclusive playgroup

A new project out of Springwood Uniting Church ensures that playgroups include sensory resources so that children with special needs can participate.

For children with special needs, participating in a playgroup can prove to be an overwhelming experience. For this reason, Springwood Uniting Church is participating in a project to provide Uniting Kids Care with the necessary equipment to set up an inclusive playgroup when they can re-open.

Rev. Leigh Gardiner is one of Springwood Uniting Church’s ministers.

“We are aware that it is often difficult for parents and carers of children with special needs to find a playgroup in which they feel welcomed, understood and supported,” Rev. Gardiner said.

“Those parents/carers then miss out on time with other adults, and the children miss out on interactive play. We hope to provide a safe and supportive space for both parents/carers and children.”

With help from Ability Links NSW, the church has been able to make the idea of inclusive equipment come to fruition. This is the realisation of an idea first raised some time ago.

“Our Family and Children’s worker, Mary-Ellen Jamieson has had a heart to start a supported/inclusive playgroup for some time,” Rev. Gardiner said.

“During a BMCLG (Blue Mountains Collaborative Leadership Group) meeting…Kerry Lambert mentioned the sensory tents that they were hoping would be able to be shared by different services and congregations.  

Rachel and Toni from Ability Links followed up and worked with Mary-Ellen on a grant application which was successful. They then purchased toys and other sensory equipment  and kindly delivered them to us recently, ready for when we can re-open.”

“We will also be working with and have the support of Uniting Early Learning, Springwood (locally known as UKC) with whom we share our building. This also gives the opportunity of cross-referrals.” 

Rev. Gardiner told Insights that the resources themselves include “a mixture of fairly typical playgroup equipment with additional tailored items.” 

The pack includes a hammock, tunnel, tent, cushions, hoops, balls, percussion, and little rocking seats as well as other items.

“We are so grateful to Kerry Lambert for the initial conversation about this and then the follow-up work of Toni, Rachel and Pani. We are deeply saddened that the work of Uniting Ability Links NSW comes to an end next month and offer our prayers that all the team members find places in which they can continue to offer their skills and passion.”

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