Come and play! Deafblind Awareness Week 2015 at Sense

Play is a crucial part of every child’s development – it helps them to develop social and communication skills and learn about the world around them. But through our work with deafblind children and families, we know that many face a number of barriers to accessing and enjoying play.  Play settings and activities are not always accessible to children with complex needs, and parents and professionals often  need more support to understand how to engage deafblind children in play successfully.

Today marks the start of Deafblind Awareness Week 2015 (DBAW).  This year Sense is celebrating DBAW by launching a year-long campaign aimed at improving access to play opportunities for deafblind children.

Several activities on the theme of play will be taking place across Sense this week:

This morning,  we launched our ‘Case for Play’ report.  The report features powerful stories that highlight the vital importance of play for deafblind children.  The report makes a series of recommendations for parents, practitioners and local authorities on how to make sure that play activities and settings are accessible.  The report is available to read on our website.

Ernie Messy PlayWe’ll be sharing lots of information throughout the week, including oldblog posts from play experts and top tips for play from our Children and Family Support Workers.  We’ll make this all available through Twitter and Facebook and on the Sense website.

To help spread awareness of the importance of play, we’ll also be encouraging Sense supporters, services and shops to take part in our messy play balloon face challenge!  The challenge was inspired by the star of our play campaign, Ernie (shown here).  Ernie and his family attend our Woodside Family Centre in Bristol. When we started to work with Ernie, his handgrip was very weak, so we taught him to paint using a balloon.  Next, he learned to paint with a thick stick, then a sponge. As his hand strength and co-ordination improved, we gave Ernie smaller and smaller objects, until he could finally draw with a pen – the first step in learning to write.  As Ernie’s hands became stronger, he learned to use them for feeding himself and finally began to communicate using sign language.  The messy play balloon face challenge is a celebration of the way children like Ernie can learn to communicate and understand the world around them through play.

How can I get involved?

  • Share the Case for Play report with your networks including any professionals you know that provide support to deafblind children.
  • Take part in our messy play balloon face challenge! You can do this by blowing up a balloon and using pens, string, glitter or whatever you have to make it into a face.  When you have finished take a photograph to share using #playalong  video instructions here!
  • All week you’ll be able to follow and participate with our activities on Twitter using the hashtag #playalong Re-tweets very welcome!
  • If you are the parent of a deafblind child, you can tell us more about your experiences of accessing play by filling in our short survey.  All the information we gather through the survey will be kept confidential, and will help us to understand more about the barriers to play, as well as what works.
  • You can make a donation online, or donate £3 by texting PLAY to 70300.

More information about the next steps for our campaign will be available on the Public Policy oldblog next week.

Author: Kate Fitch

Director of Policy and Communication at Sense

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