Today, I took my children to a stay and play session … with a difference!
Both the children and I came out buzzing having enjoyed a social experience that was not judgemental but was engaging for all.
It was a place we felt accepted in.
Potential Kids is a voluntary, non-profit organisation based in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, aiming to help young people on the Autistic Spectrum (or with ADHD), their siblings and families by providing social/activity groups.
The group is held in a safe and understanding environment, where young people can be understood, accepted and have the opportunity to meet others like themselves.
It is run by experienced/qualified CRB checked professionals, therapists, play leaders and supported by volunteers, which include an on site ‘minetest’ (run by Project 15).
Well the facilities were perfect; the thought, detail and preparation gone into this space were mind-blowing!
I have some pictures to show, but they do not even do it justice, you almost need to visit to see the detail and size of the space.
You see, it has even more poignancy when you know the back story.
It was nearly due to launch quite a while back but it was targeted by vandals.
They completely wrecked the premises and stole equipment (the full story can be read here).
Heart wrenching when you think it was all on the back of a parent with an autistic child, who wanted to fill the gap for all children in the community.
How she found the strength and determination to do it all again is just so inspiring.
The more you join the autism/ADHD community, you realise that parents often manage to find the spirit to carry on despite the challenges they have to face.
The space is extraordinary and there is a place to hopefully satisfy every interest and need including football tables, a basketball hoop, role play area, Lego trays, train sets, music area and so much more.
The sensory areas have been designed to alleviate as much anxiety as possible.
The great thing is that siblings were just as welcome to join, which made this accessible for me as a parent.
My PDA’er needed her sister there; she is her security blanket.
Each session, which is run fortnightly, will have a different theme.
Today it was cake and biscuit decorating, which my two just loved!
So, the stay and play didn’t run without those ‘interesting moments’ 🙊, but they were handled by parents with such care and love that they felt like they didn’t even happen.
As another parent confessed to me, “we don’t really go out much anymore, except for this.”
I also knew that feeling only too well.
You see, today’s session felt safe. We felt understood.
When you’ve spent the last few years being judged, blamed and disconnected from society it feels very surreal to have such a sense of belonging.
I truly believe finding other parents is often a life saver.
I’m sure it is the same for our children and young people to learn they are not always different.
They can be the same.
Today we were all ‘the same’ and boy did that feel good.
For a link to the Facebook page ‘Potential Kids’ and for future stay and play sessions please click here.
I hope by sharing this information other parents will make use of these sessions and more importantly they will inspire other parents nationally to create something similar. As parents, we are by far the strongest when we are together.
Thank you to Angela and the team for allowing me to write about this, as well as providing amazing facilities for families in need.