The SMILE project based in Malvern has an outdoor space that needs renovation so it is safe and practical for children with special needs to use. We would like to create an all-weather outdoor play area to enable us to extend SMILE provision for older children and increase (when restrictions are lifted) the number of group and individual sessions we can offer such as evening, weekend, school holidays, and weekend sessions providing respite for families with disabled children. We would like to provide a cafe and develop our sensory and horticultural area too by adding a greenhouse, where the children can plant and grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs. We would hope to be able to open the outdoor space by March 2022. This new outdoor space will provide our children with an improved learning and sensory experience, helping increase communication skills, physical wellbeing, confidence, and social interaction, which all enhance well-being and improve mental health.
What we'll deliver:
Why it's a great idea:
Our SMILE children and young people have been isolated at home during the pandemic which has been very tough on them and their carers, so an outdoor play environment would provide opportunities for children and young people with learning and physical disabilities to gradually be able to get out outside of their house again in a safe way. This space will provide opportunities to learn and develop in a safe area, improving social interaction, communication, creativity, and imagination. Play equipment will help improve fitness and physical skills including fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Pre-Covid we saw the positive impact outdoor space had on the children we work with and we want to extend this by providing a safe all-weather space offering therapeutic education stimulating the use of skills and improving health and mental well-being as well as physical well-being.
Steps to get it done:
During the pandemic, most of our SMILE clients have been isolating at home, which has been difficult for them and their carers, leading many to struggle with their mental health. Feedback gathered from a recent survey of over 40 of the families we work with, has shown that the pandemic has affected children's confidence, self-esteem, mental health and emotional and physical well-being. As they start to return to SMILE and restrictions lift, an all-weather play area and garden will provide us with the space to work with children, helping them build confidence in their abilities again and improving their self-esteem, self-worth, and mental and physical health.
About the space
Malvern Hills District Council