We all know play is an important part of a child’s development, but it doesn’t come easily to everyone.
Tarneit mother of three, Liane, says her children, Kye, 9, and 6-year-old twins Lyla and Ayva, all struggle with high anxiety and social skills, so when she heard about the Bright Sparks program offered by Gateways Support Services she was quick to enrol.
The program works on individual therapy goals in fun, small group recreation sessions.
“The fact they are learning while having fun is just perfect,” says Liane, adding that she has already noticed changes in her children.
“Some of the things we notice is how they’ll handle a social situation afterwards. They adapt things they’ve learnt and put it into practice. Things as simple as turn taking.”
Gateways Support Services developed Bright Sparks to provide a group therapy option for children on the waiting lists to receive one-on-one sessions.
Designed around activities including science, craft and cooking, the sessions are structured by a therapist who works with each child’s family to understand the goals within their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan.
A therapist customises the program based on each child’s NDIS goals and works with recreation staff to ensure those targets are embedded in each session. The therapist reviews children’s progress throughout the program, all while the kids are busy having a whole lot of fun.
Bright Sparks team member Ellie says she enjoys seeing participants gain confidence and improve social skills.
“Some participants were particularly shy to start, but with time they came out of their shells, which was very special to see,” Ellie says.
The four, fortnightly sessions run on Saturday mornings for four hours, which also gives parents a bit of a break.
Liane says she also appreciated the comprehensive notes supplied at the end of each session.
“I often find that it takes quite a while to see the true benefits of programs and therapy,” Liane says. “You don’t realise how beneficial they are until something happens and your children handle the situation beautifully.
“Bright Sparks involves different therapists and works on social behaviours which ticks so many boxes for our family. I loved that it’s every second weekend, so our children still have down-time, but it also gives the parents a break.”
Bright Sparks returns in term 3 in a modified capacity to meet social distancing requirements. Sessions will accomodate up to six children plus support workers.