Aug 8 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Wednesday
A LOCAL outdoor centre rolled out the welcome mat for children and young people connected to Stirling charity PLUS during a recent visit.
A group of youngsters, who all benefit from the Back O’Hill-based good cause’s work with those with disabilities and additional support needs, enjoyed crate climbing and raft-building at Dounans in Aberfoyle on Tuesday, July 31.
MSP Aileen Campbell, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Children and Young People, gave up part of her summer parliamentary break to visit the centre and speak to PLUS staff.
PLUS chief executive officer Susan Rodger explained to the Observer that her organisation currently carries out a wide range of projects to give service users the chance to enjoy themselves, while simultaneously giving parents or carers respite.
The newly-appointed CEO cited ‘Opportunity PLUS’ – a weekly play session for kids aged between three and five – as an example of one of the charity’s most recent initiatives.
Funding has been secured to allow a maximum of eight children the chance to play at Stirling Boys’ Club in the Top of the Town between 1pm and 3pm during the school term, until March next year.
Susan said: “We’ve found that a lot of parents who come to us after their children have started school have said that they wished there was something in place for children at a younger age.
“This is where ‘Opportunity PLUS’ comes in – it gives the children the chance to enjoy age-appropriate activities while a parent or carer either joins in, or has the time to themselves; it depends on the needs of the child involved.
“We’ve been running the project since the start of July. We’ve got two of the rooms in the Boys’ Club – the main hall and one of the rooms upstairs – and one of the mothers is using the time to complete an Open University degree.”
Susan went on to state that, as an organisation, PLUS primarily aims to cater from those aged between three and 31. However, the ‘Family PLUS’ scheme is geared towards the parents and carers of those with additional support needs.
She said: “We are always aware of the pressure that the parents are under and how they value their break when their children are with PLUS.”
‘Family PLUS’ is led by a group of adults, who plan quarterly activities for parents and carers to have the opportunity to share information and experiences. The gatherings include child care.
According to Susan: “One parent who has taken a lead role on the committee has commented that: ‘through ‘Family PLUS’ some new friendships have been made and, perhaps more importantly, a sense of alliance’.”
To find out more information about the services available to children with additional support needs across the Forth Valley email email@example.com or phone 01786 450086.