JU:MP have been delighted to work with The Big Swing since the launch of the programme last March. Hundreds of children have been given the opportunity to experience outdoor play in different settings through JU:MP Festivals as well as pop-up sessions in parks and at The Big Swing’s amazing playground base in Eccleshill, after receiving funding through the JU:MP award programme to deliver sessions to children and young people with autism. Nothing has given the team as big a headache as working out how to deliver fun, inclusive play sessions under social distancing guidelines.
We caught up with Janet, manager at Play Bradford to find out how she sees it working for them:
We know we cannot accommodate high attendances of children, so the service will at least for this summer, reflect this.
We will operate in ‘bubbles’ – there will be a maximum of 8 children per bubble or a family or even 2 families potentially, given most recent guidance.
We will have zoned areas, 4 at present. Each area will have a fixed piece of equipment and additional loose parts, maximising the play value in that zone.
Children will be allocated a certain amount of time in each zone then move around.
The zones will be cleaned before new ‘bubbles’ enter.
Sanitising stations will be set up for people to use when they arrive and when they leave and there will be an option for families to use face coverings provided by The Big Swing, if they so wish.
We know that music is great for calming, so we will look into having some calming music playing across the playground.
We may need to limit what items children bring to the playground.
There are some scenarios that we’re still trying to work through, such as when a child may need first aid.
Staff will have the COVID-19 test prior to running any sessions and usual instruction will apply for staff or families not to come to the facility if they are unwell.
If another spike is announced we will look to increase our virtual presence – we don’t want to close again.
What The Big Swing have responded to is the need of some families in the area to access food. This has prompted an idea to put on twilight sessions so that families can be fed and then children can play, giving the family a chance to escape from any worries for a short time.
It is an evolving plan as government guidance changes, and Janet won’t be on her own in wondering how and if certain things will work. As unsettling and challenging a time it is to run face to face sessions, it is applaudable that groups and organisations are adapting in such a way so as to keep children moving, when they undoubtedly need it the most.
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