While playing is a normal part of childhood, for many children with special needs, learning the skills associated with play are particularly challenging.
Byron Shire Early Childhood Intervention Service (BSECIS) in Suffolk Park helps children with special needs to learn play and other skills that will improve their ability to cope with everyday activities.
Thanks to a donation from the Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF), the BSECIS has been able to improve facilities for the 35 families that it services.
The $3,874.50 donation was made possible by an NRCF fundraising event held in Bangalow in September. BSECIS has used the funds to purchase a home corner for the centre consisting of a play kitchen and related products.
BSECIS Special Educator, Rebecca Leacock, said that the value of the new equipment could not be underestimated.
“Children with special needs often don’t know how to play. By watching them at play, we can analyse where they are in their learning and determine how to move them to the next level.”
“Imaginative play is a very important part of developing both social skills and language. A lot of children with delays have real difficulty in participating in an open play area such as this since they have trouble understanding the unwritten rules. Having a set to use during therapy is important to develop these skills prior to starting preschool.”
Rebecca said that learning the “norms” of interaction were important for the development of all children but even more so for children with special needs.
“The impact of intervention is much greater when the child is younger and less locked into behavioural patterns. If we can work with children at a young age they have an excellent chance of making progress and going to a normal school. As they grow older it is more difficult and the children can lose confidence…patterns become much harder to unlearn.”
The NRCF is an independent philanthropic organisation that raises funds from within the community and invests them in perpetuity. The proceeds from investments go back to the community in the form of an annual grants round. The NRCF has awarded more than $300,000 in grant funding across the Northern Rivers since 2004.
For more information, visit www.nrcf.org.au, phone 6621 9996 or find NRCF on facebook https://www.facebook.com/northernriverscommunityfoundation
Image: NRCF Marketing Committee Chair, Phil Daly, with Rebecca Leacock and Kai, aged four.