Making a difference
“Having been involved in numerous childrens charity initiatives over the past 40 years; I must say that I am simply amazed at what Incredible Kids has achieved in such a short time. From the outset they have demonstrated a total commitment to achieving the highest possible care and support to numerous youngsters, and their families. Their integrity in the running and administration of the charity is exemplary.”
Bob Woodward OBE, Founder of the CLIC Trust.
Stories from families
K and his mum started coming to Incredible Kids after a friend originally recommended Incredible Kids. K's mum told us:
"We immediately knew we had found a home from home. We left already feeling excited at attending our next session. We both felt welcomed by the staff. They greeted us with warm smiles and made us feel instantly included and a valued part of Incredible Kids. My son was free to explore his new surroundings and took great interest in the varied activities available before settling at a firm favourite. I could see he felt relaxed as he chatted to staff who joined him as he played. Watching my son smile and interact with other children was reassuring that he felt comfortable being himself. I chatted to the supervisor who was able to signpost me for further support services if I felt these could be useful. I had that instant feeling of belonging to a lovely supportive and understanding community who I could meet both face to face and online too. My son enjoys the varied indoor and outdoor activities available at Incredible Kids and has been able to try new experiences too which have helped boost his self-esteem and self-confidence. He has been able to learn more about himself as an individual and recognise his strengths whilst also enabling him to become more confident in asking for help from others. Some of his favourite activities are very much sensory-based; he especially loves the sand, hands-on messy activities and anything physical. The death slide, scooter track and the large scale climbing frame are firm favourites along with roller skating, football with peers and staff and playing hide and seek amongst the vast outdoor play area. He enjoys using the large chalkboard and the small world imaginative playsets too. The large outdoor space lends itself well for providing smaller, enclosed spaces for children to retreat to for some downtime along with rooms inside to relax and be in a quieter environment if that's needed. Whilst I watch him play he always has a smile on his face, he is clearly very happy and enjoying himself and he loves the social interaction from both peers and staff. He is now more confident talking to others and making new friendships and asks whether those children will be at the next session he'll attend. Whilst the children's needs all vary there is that common ground to start from and that real sense of support from one another as we share our experiences and journeys so far. The staff are able to signpost to other organisations who may be able to offer support. Having access to this wealth of knowledge helps make me feel a better parent for my son as I know where else I can turn to for support. Incredible Kids has a special place in my heart and I often attend the sessions when I don't have my son too as I always feel so welcome every time I go.
We first started visiting Incredible Kids when we saw the slime making workshop advertised and Elouise really wanted to come. I’d never heard of any groups for older children with additional needs and hoped it would help us.
Elouise really enjoyed the slime making on her first visit but because of her social communication difficulties and past bad experiences at school she struggled to cope and ended up crying at the end of the session.
Since then has become a lot more positive about herself and a lot more secure in who she is and how she feels about other children with additional needs. It’s nice for me as her mum to be able to share my frustrations about the system we battle against with other parents who have had a shared experience.
Elouise loves spending time with children who understand her at Incredible Kids as well as alongside children who don’t have additional needs so she gets a good balance. She used to have a chip on her shoulder feeling negatively about herself. She now knows she isn’t alone and doesn’t feel resentful anymore.
Since she has been visiting Incredible Kids, Elouise has made so many friends! She has friends her own age as well as some younger friends. They all accept her and she feels part of something. She chooses to come to Incredible Kids above everything else.
Our paediatrician recommended Incredible Kids to us. We found it hard to go to most places as Maisie had meltdowns and no-one understood. Life was very challenging at the time.
We all loved our first visit! The playworkers helped Maisie get stuck in and it felt so welcoming. We've been visiting for six years now. Everyone made us feel so welcome even though we were a new family.
We've all made so many friends there. My son, Owen has been helped to understand other children who have additional needs.
Maisie loves playing with the dolls with her friends as well as playing by herself, having a break from her brother! Owen loves being with the friends he has made here. Both have struggled to make friends outside of Incredible Kids but have made really good friends here.
We were invited by another family who brought us along to a session. I didn't know about any clubs for children with additional needs. I loved the fact Tiana could play freely while I relaxed.
I was very nervous on my first visit. I spoke to a few other families. Tiana loved it instantly and wasn't phased by it. She was really relaxed whereas at other clubs she was very stressed. It was so good not to have that anxiety.
Tianna has made some simple friendships but is happy playing alone or alongside people. Asirus has made some really good friendships which extend outside of Incredible Kids. He has more friends here than at school!
Tiana loves the messy play, slime and playdoh even though she doesn't play with them the way you would expect. She loves the small world play. Her brother likes spending time with a mix of children, some of whom have additional needs and some who don't.
My confidence level has grown a lot since I started coming here and so has Asirus'. We are not isolated any more. I found out about grants I can apply for so now Tiana has a disabled buggy which has been a lifesaver!
George has been coming here for over a year after we were invited by someone from church. He hates noise and busy places but he loves Incredible Kids even when it is noisy or busy!
The first time we came here he walked in as though he was very comfortable here. He wasn't happy anywhere else and it was such a relief to find a place he enjoyed himself.
He plays alongside other children but doesn't yet form close friendships. He recognises other children who like the same things as him. He loves playing with barbies and dressing up and role play and its nice he is free to be himself and people won't laugh at him.
We now have somewhere we know he will be happy and where we dont have to feel anxious.
Incredible Kids is a real lifeline for our family. Before diagnosis, I was banging my head against a brick wall not knowing where to look, get help or simply just to feel able to take my child places she would fit in and not be excluded. With the help of all the knowledgeable volunteers, I was able to gain information about her impending diagnosis, advice was given regarding help that was needed and also benefits schemes. I think the staff are amazing, they made us feel at ease from day one. My daughter is able to play, run around often quite boisterous at times without annoying people. Often you feel excluded if your child doesn't fit in to the norm but this place has helped with mine and her confidence. Now she has a formal diagnosis we visit every week, I have much sought after time to sit and chat with the other parents/carers whilst she gets to have fun with all her new friends. In her words "IK is fun, I never want to leave".
We as a family have found that incredible kids is an amazing resource centre and escape that we all benefit from. Me and my husband can sit and have a coffee and chat with other parents in similar situations or just be an understanding ear for others who need to vent. We have 5 girls ranging from 13 - 2yrs old and there is something for all of them to relax, enjoy and get away from our house and hospital life. We also have a disabled 3yr old son, he benefits greatly from the sensory area and the big open space to be able to move about, with little worry of his lines or tubes being pulled at or caught by other children. He is encouraged by the Incredible Kids helpers to try everything and helped when needed with more challenging activities for his ability. We have been dreading the building closing and will be a big void as we do go every Tues, Friday and a few hours on a Saturday. Our son does spend a lot of time in hospital and more so this Christmas as he had a kidney transplant. All the helpers were an amazing support and we are always still welcome when he is an in-patient. This helps to keep a routine for the girls and also escape the stresses we are facing away from incredible kids. Thank you, incredible kids, for everything you do for us as a family!
More family stories
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We have two children with severe disabilities. We access the Incredible Kids group regularly on a Saturday and occasionally during the week and during the holidays. Both of our children enjoy attending the play sessions. There are appropriate activities and equipment for the children to use and the environment is always welcoming, happy and safe. We support, as a family, all that the Incredible Kids group do and recommend them to other families who have children with additional needs.
Incredible Kids is a great, safe place for both my child and me to relax and enjoy some social time in a non-judgemental environment. Due to the large space available no matter how many children are present it does not feel crowded or busy, making it a calmer place for my son to play without feeling his usual social anxiety.
Incredible Kids is the only place I can take both my children where I know that they will both be happy and that I will be able to have a break. It is a wonderful feeling to be able to help other parents who are also struggling to cope with the pressures of having a disabled child.
What we do:
- Provide family play sessions for children and young people with additional needs.
- Provide family play sessions for siblings of children and young people with additional needs.
- Provide trained play workers to engage the children in fun and meaningful play
- Provide parents with access to information about support services available
- Enable support service providers to access families within our sessions
- Provide special events each year for families to attend
Children and young people with additional needs will have improved confidence and social skills, allowing better integration with their peers.
Parents of children with additional needs and disabilities will feel less isolated and better supported through sharing their experiences.
Families in the Greater Bristol Area with a child with a disability or additional needs require better play provision and more equal opportunities to interact with other families. Parents and carers feel isolated and would like more contact with other parents of children with a disability or additional needs.
Contact a Family conducted an online survey in September 2011. 72% of families stated that they experience mental ill health such as anxiety, depression or breakdown due to isolation.
In November 2011 a survey of 198 families in the Greater Bristol Area with a disabled child showed that 95% of the families wanted access to an exclusive setting that provided them with an opportunity and the required equipment and support to be able to play with their children.
When asked to rank which services they valued the most in order, the desired services, were as follows:
1. Services that allow parents or carers and their children to play together
2. Services that allow siblings of children with additional needs time to play together
3. Services that give children with additional needs access to appropriate specialist play equipment
Annual Report 201718