One step closer to spring! We spent January hunkering down and reflecting on the past year. 2022 was extra special for Incredible Kids as it was our 10th birthday and we were given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Pretty good birthday present, right?
We’re chuffed with our achievements but we couldn’t have supported so many families without you – our Incredible community. Whether you donated money, cake, or your time, we are so incredibly grateful.
Let’s start with the most important bit – our members. We’re over the moon to have welcomed 910 new parents and carers into our community in 2022 alone. These are families who have signed up to attend one of our inclusive play sessions – that’s a 37% increase in the amount of families who Incredible Kids support in some way. If one of the 910 is you – welcome!
What did we offer in 2022?
As we did throughout the global pandemic, in 2022 we tried to offer as much support and fun as we could. In fact, we ran at least 312 sessions, totally 468 hours!
Every single Saturday in 2022 we offered 4 play sessions, including Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. We regularly made Saturdays extra special by booking professionals in play, such as Same Same but Different, Whoopie! Face painting, Lego parties from Gincandescence, herbal tea bath bag-making with The Bee Lady, and epic bubble displays from Rainbow Gecko Entertainment.
Summer holiday support in pop-up venue
In summer, we provided extra midweek support in Patchway Children’s Centre on top of our usual Friday and Saturday play sessions at The Vench in Lockleaze. We ran 48 additional 90 minute sessions to provide extra support to families.
We want to help girls with additional needs forge friendships. On the first Saturday of the month, our play sessions were dedicated to girls with additional needs aged 0-25 and their families. Our passionate playworkers supported girls in whatever they fancied doing – crafts, climbing, sensory room, trampoline, sandpit or simply a natter over tea and biscuits.
PDA Support Sessions
On the last Saturday of every month, our afternoon play session were dedicated to young people with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) symptoms and their families. PDA is a form of anxiety-driven autism and this session offers families a chance to connect with families who have similar experiences.
One big Friday
Towards the end of 2022 we chose to combine our Incredible Teens session and our after-school play session on a Friday into one big session. We wanted our kids to be able to hang out for longer at the end of the week and be able travel to Lockleaze after school and arrive in time for our hot meal. We rotate our Friday menu between pizza, pasta, hot dogs and toasties – all accompanied by our milkshake bar.
Alice from SEND Advocacy Limited joined us regularly to answer your SEND-related questions. Alice practiced as a Barrister specialising in civil litigation for almost a decade before focusing on SEND law and practice. She successfully advocated for her eldest son (who is autistic and has ADHD), securing a place at an independent specialist provision.
Incredible Kids families were able to book Alice for a free 15-minute one-to-one chat while their child had fun with our playworkers.
We ran a survey to find out how we’ve helped families and the below stats gave us the warm fuzzies!
• 100% of families told us their children had tried new things at Incredible Kids
• 96% of families felt less isolated as a result of Incredible Kids
• 98% of families said their child had fun at Incredible Kids
• 98% of families said our playworkers helped their child to have fun
• 91% of families said their child felt more confident because of Incredible Kids
• 96% of families said their children were happier because of Incredible Kids
• 73% of families said Incredible Kids helped them access other support
• 100% of families said Incredible Kids helped them to get out of the house
• 91% of families said Incredible Kids had helped them to cope
• 98% of families look forward to coming back to Incredible Kids
• 98% of families would recommend Incredible Kids
Our 2022 donations (drumroll please…)
A HUMUNGOUS THANK YOU to all our donators and their donations. Below is a list of incredibly generous organisations who accepted our grant requests and made the running of multiple weekly play sessions possible.
With these donations, we’ve been able to pay passionate playworkers who dedicate their Friday evenings and Saturdays to supporting families to relax and have fun in a safe and inclusive environment.
Donations enabled us to pay for the use of The Vench Adventure Playground’s indoor and outdoor space, provide hot meals at our Fridays sessions and create welcome packs jam-packed with SEND-related tips and advice and book brilliant professional entertainers.
Toys from Axis Foundation and WSP
On top of this huge donation figure, Axis Foundation gave us £1,000 for toys. So far, we’ve have bought dolls heads for our children to enjoy practising hairdressing and cosmetics. WSP donated funds for us to buy a fantastic train set and the children create a miniature world with this regularly. With donations we purchased specialist sensory equipment, such as a wheelchair-adapted tuff tray. Our playworkers created astounding scenes for our young people to get stick into.
The incredible figures above also don’t include physical donations of toys and craft supplies we received at our sessions or through our Amazon Wish List (receiving a 2-month supply of glue sticks from an anonymous giver was a highlight of 2022!).
10 years of cake-fuelled community
Incredible Kids first started when our founder, Jennie, and 400 families in Bristol banded together after losing access to a local disability centre. A decade later, we’re more certain than ever of the power of a cuppa and cake to strengthen community. In 2022 we called out for local bakers to donate cupcakes to fuel our play sessions and we were delighted with the response.
We’re a social bunch!
Throughout the weeks in 2022 we shared activities our members can look forward to, from slime swamp trays to silent discos. We also shared links to SEND advice sources and celebrated our families’ successes.
We’re thrilled to have welcomed 2,812 new followers from all around in the world across our social media platforms in 2022. We have an active Incredible Kids Facebook Group where our community shares useful events and information. Follow us Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and join our Facebook Group!
We couldn’t round off such a year without a fuss for our families. Thank you to Magic Little Grants, John James Bristol Foundation and Firehaus for their donations that enabled us to give families a special Christmas.
Our held a Dr. Seuss-themed Christmas party included handmade decorations from playworkers, delicious treats donated by Greggs and our Incredible Bakers, toy trains for WSP and festive face painting from Whoopie!!
Santa and his helper visited and we transformed our sensory room into a grotto. We are incredibly grateful to Hartfield Financial Planning for buying, wrapping and donating 80 sensory toys and selection boxes for Santa to give our young people with additional needs.
Our playworkers Danyella and James represented our charity at the New Siblands 2022 Yule Fayre this year to help spread the word about our support service. Do get in touch if you’d like us to present the benefits of Incredible Kids at your organisation.
“It was very welcoming and my daughter was able to explore and relax in a safe and exciting environment. My daughter’s confidence has increased a lot. She is also much more relaxed about her autism and speaks very positively about herself. I found it particularly helpful last year when she was struggling at school and I was able to talk to the staff about how we could help her.” — Incredible Girls parent
“It has been a godsend to us during the school holidays my son is very active and on the go constantly and coming here has been fantastic for him and his younger sibling. It’s been great and all the workers have been lovely it’s nice going to a place where you’re not judged.” — Lauren Wiltshire, Incredible Under 8s parent
“I like talking with the playworkers because they listen to me and make me feel more positive. My mum felt relief when first coming to Incredible Kids as she got to talk with other parents and felt less lonely. Incredible Kids enables me to play with other autistic teenagers. I feel supported by an amazing community and I don’t know what I’d do without the sessions each week – they’re fun and give me comfort.” — Annie, Incredible Kid
Coming up in 2023
“Next year looks set to be an exciting year for Incredible Kids,” says Jennie, Founder of Incredible Kids. “We hope to be able to offer even more support to our members through our varied programme of events.”
In 2023, we’re dedicating time towards finding a permanent home for our play sessions. Find out more and help us raise funds here.
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We wish you an Incredible 2023!