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Inside ● ● ● ● ●

Great places to play Active play for health Play and looked after children Building resilience Mud and confidence


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Fostering Play Welcome to this West Midlands special edition of Carers Can! Foster Play.

Contents 3 Magic moments 4 Play is for always 5 Fostering play... 6 My special book 7 Foster care secrets 8 Just playing? 10 60 active minutes 13 Playtime for carers 14 Play and looked after children 15 Helping children trust 16 Building resilience 18 Health and play

The West Midlands has some great opportunities for play and many exciting new play spaces are opening this year. We want our children to have the best play and recreation opportunities because play helps children to be healthy and happy. As foster carers, you will know that play and play provision are important for children’s mental and physical health. Play is enjoyable and fun, and provides a chance to learn, an opportunity to build social and emotional skills, self-esteem and self-confidence. It’s also a great way to keep active and promote a healthy lifestyle. This magazine for foster carers has been jointly produced by the Department of Health West Midlands, Government Office West Midlands, NCB and Play England to promote the importance of play for the wellbeing of all children and young people. We want play opportunities to be as inclusive and available as possible – all children should be able to play.

20 Amazing places to play in the West Midlands

Do try some of the ideas in this magazine to help the children you care for to enjoy play and experience its health benefits.

22 Risks and benefits of play

Have fun – it’s good for you and for the children!

23 Health and safety myths 24 Mud and confidence… 26 Great places to go in the West Midlands

Clive Wilkinson Regional Director for Children and Learners Dr Rashmi Shukla Regional Director of Public Health

28 Charter for Children’s Play Editor Mary Ryan Editorial Group Mandy Blair, foster carer Helen Chambers, NCB/Healthy Care Programme Issy Cole-Hamilton, Play England Suzanne Gardner, Regional Physical Activity Coordinator, West Midlands Catherine Goodridge, Regional Food and Health Coordinator, West Midlands Emma Kirk, KIDS – Playwork Inclusion Project Catherine Lissaman, Play England, West Midlands Tracey Reynolds, foster carer Lakhvir Sahota, Play England, West Midlands Karen Saunders, Department of Health West Midlands Kath Smith, foster carer Mandy Smith, Government Office West Midlands Tracey Taylor, foster carer Elaine Wall, foster carer Resa White, foster carer Correspondence Healthy Care Programme and Play England NCB 8 Wakley Street London EC1V 7QE Tel: 020 7843 6330 Fax: 020 7713 7280 Email: hchambers@ncb.org.uk Email: lsahota@ncb.org.uk The views expressed in Carers Can! Foster Health are not necessarily those of the publishers. Carers Can! Foster Health is produced by NCB, 2010

Healthy play We are delighted that the Healthy Care Programme, NCB and Play England have been able to work together with foster carers in the West Midlands to show that being healthy can be fun and playful. Our carers certainly showed us that being busy, playing and laughing together makes them feel well. Helen Chambers Healthy Care Programme, NCB Lakhvir Sahota Play England, West Midlands


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Magic moments Carers do a highly skilled job with children and young people who, for many reasons, cannot be with their parents. Most people don’t really know what carers do or how they help children and young people to grow up. Carers in the West Midlands described those special moments when play, friendship and having fun makes all the difference for a child

In the winter we sometimes go to the beach for the day. It’s a 90-mile round trip. We pack hot drinks in flasks, a picnic, wellies and raincoats. We run in the sea in the rain, play in rock pools and make sandcastles – wet sand works so much better. We must be mad!

One day I was surprised to be given a sheet of paper with a drawing of a coffin on it. The 11-year-old lad had drawn it because his mum’s boyfriend had died. I think he just wanted to record it and show someone. Saying‘Thank you for a lovely picture’ doesn’t sound right really – I felt very inadequate. I’ve still got that drawing and he went on to be a very artistic lad.

On a trip to the bank there was the usual queue, the little four year old we care for marched up and down showing off the sparkly handbag on her arm. A woman in the queue said‘That’s a lovely bag’. ‘Yes’ beamed little Miss Handbag,‘it’s my best one.’We all smiled but what they didn’t know was how timid and wary she was when she first came to us. She wouldn’t play or touch a toy – now dressing up is her favourite game, shoes, bags, hats – the lot. I looked at her and I realised –‘She’s happy, she’s really happy!’

Two youngsters placed with me hav e weekly guitar lessons provided by the local authority. They have blossome d during these lessons so much tha t they now take part in playing at public events. Now that’s confidence for you!

An eight-year-old boy we cared for got very upset if his mum didn’t –I come to contact visits. He would seek the company of our old horse used to watch him put his arms up around her old neck and bury his face into her. He would stay there until he felt better – the horse didn’t mind and was always ready to lend an ear – then he would come back indoors and carry on as normal. I never imagined the animals would be part of the caring when I started fostering.


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PLAY IS FOR ALWAYS

orld play. Play is Children all over the w healthy childhood. a vital part of a happy, time

some ople of every age need Children and young pe chosen to ve ha something they every day to play – doing eir own, y. They might play on th wa eir th it ing do d an do adults; e other children or with with friends, alongsid oors or time or a long time; ind t or sh a r fo be t gh mi it g; running games; singing or yellin outdoors; with toys or r as a book – it doesn’t matte ing ad re ly iet qu or t ou ab ance to play. long as they do get a ch

Experts say play helps children and young people to... ● develop, learn and be imaginative, creative and independent ● be healthy and active ● deal with difficulties like emotional stress or medical

treatment ● experience risk and boundaries and find out about limits.

Parents and carers know play helps children and young people to... ● be happy, carefree and enjoy being a child ● find out about themselves, develop interests and do things

they want to do

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Carers Can! Foster Play West Midlands

● get to know the people and places in their lives and to explore

the world around them ● build relationships with people who are important to them – family and carers – and to make friends ● smile, laugh and feel good.

Children say... Play is fun! They don’t care what the experts say – they just want more!


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FOSTERING PLAY Mandy Blair is an experienced carer from Birmingham; she told us how she finds play helps children settle when they first arrive. Play is something we all do: it doesn’t matter how old you are, what language you speak or what your abilities are, everyone can play. You can learn it as you go along and get more adventurous as time goes on. Play is widely used in ‘play therapies’, which help children heal and overcome difficult life experiences, but its importance is often overlooked when making plans for looked after children. As foster carers, we play a big part in helping children to have experiences that will help them grow up to be healthy and happy – we know that opportunities to play are really important for looked after children. But I wonder how many of us, as foster carers, ever realise how much of our daily routine is playrelated and how much of a difference that makes for the children?

Here are a few thoughts about how play makes all the difference when a child first arrives… ● When a child first comes to us they are often

scared and bewildered. I always ask what their favourite toy is and try to find one, or similar toys, for them to play with. For a child to be parted from a favourite toy is another loss – it’s not just a toy, it was a familiar part of their life. ● Many of us have a box of toys for the children and no matter how upset the new child is or how long they have stood in the corridor crying on arrival, a toy or game usually helps them focus. ● I encourage my son and the other foster children placed with us to show the new child our toys and games and encourage them to play with them. It eases the first few hours for the child. ● When I’m talking to them I break the ice by asking about their favorite toys and games, and the activities that they like to do – it is a fairly safe subject and one most children can talk about. This is a step towards building trust with the child, as they will remember the first thing they did with you. Of course we do see a lot of children placed in care who have never had the opportunity to play at all, never mind enjoy age-related play. Often they don’t know how to play; they have never had the experience and adults haven’t played with them. We provide opportunities for them to learn how to play and to enjoy it for its own sake.

Find out more

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Explore further the importance of play for children and young people’s development by going to: www.yourfamily.org.uk – which offers tips, ideas, advice and fun things to do for families with young children www.bbc.co.uk/parenting/ – then click on‘Play and do’.

Whether they are a toddler or a teenager, we have to show them how to play and share, help them explore and try new things, get messy, run about, experiment with paints, laugh and sing, tell silly jokes, read a favourite story – the things we do with our own children and that parents do with their children all over the world. We have to think hard about finding the right play opportunities for these children – for example, the child who is aggressive and hard to be friends with might benefit from sports and games with rules, like football. They can let off steam but must keep to the rules and the boundaries are clear, at the same time they join a team, meet other children and hopefully learn how to get on with others and even make friends. If you did an assessment of how a child played when they first came to you and how they played six months later – I wonder what you would see?


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MY SPECIAL BOOK Make a concertina book at home – it’s easy, fun and good for any age – even you! s spending Make this at home – it is a good activity for a quiet half-hour that involve some time with a child without them feeling you are ‘talking to them’! Maybe make one yourself too?

d nee l wil You a long piece of stiff paper or light card • • • • • • • •

two pieces of stiff card to make the front and back covers coloured pencils or felt tips paints (not essential) scissors glue magazines, comics and possibly photos glitter, buttons, ribbons, bits of coloured wrapping paper – anything that could be used to decorate the book.

ons cti tru Ins 1 The book will be like a concertina, so you need to fold it into equal size pages. 2 Cut out two pieces of card the right size for the front and back covers. book – 3 Talk with the child about a theme for the book. It could be a ‘favourites’ ll team, with a page for clothes, meals, things to do, TV programmes, friends, footba about celebrities, animals, music. Let them decide. They could even make the book just one or two things they are interested in; make up a story; or record a special trip or event. 4 Encourage the child to design and decorate each page – find pictures from magazines, use photos, or draw or paint images. It can have words, pictures, things stuck on and patterns – whatever they like. – they should 5 Encourage the child to give some thought to the front and back pagesblank front the to on be really special. Decorate them separately, then glue them and back pages as it will also make those pages a bit stronger. 6 The book can be tied up with ribbon or pretty string; or use bits of elastic decorated with beads or buttons to hold it closed.

bit a up it ke Sha Toddlers and young children might like to add handprints or footprints made with •

paint. Or they might like to stick on leaves and cut-out pictures. can add pockets for photos and other treasures – • Teenagers often love scrapbooks and have a look at www.scrapbook-crazy.com for more ideas and instructions. be a background scene for toy models, such as • It doesn’t have to be a book – it could animals, characters, toys, etc. Or it could be a series of mini-scenes that tell a story. or teenager for a special birthday or • Make a concertina card with a child celebration – or encourage them to make one for someone else.

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Foster c a re

Did you know?

secrets

!

Doing creative activities like painting, singing, playing an instrument, listening to a story or making one up, and other creative activities, can help children’s brain development. Dr Bruce Perry in the USA has researched and written about the importance of play for healthy brain development – you can read an article about this at: www.childtrauma.org/ctamaterials/Curiosity.asp

Collect bits and bobs for mini art projects your eye, pop in a Anything that catches u have an unusual box and hey presto yo rtips. art activity at your finge

Try searching for ‘concertina books’ on the internet Have a look at the images pages – there will be some really arty concertina books – teenagers might find ideas they’d like to try.

Rainy day? Everyone’s bored? Visit www.yourfamily.org.uk for ideas for easy things to do at home with children under nine, plus tips for handling everyday family life.

Under fives and primary school children? Older children and teenagers? Find something to grab their attention from the hundreds of ‘how to’ factsheets on www.artattack.co.uk from X-ray pictures to 3D scenes.

For quick and quirky things to / make at home visit www.bbc.co.uk cbeebies/makes/


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JUST PLAYING?

Culture and heritage All children play and can benefit from play – it is part of childhood no matter what your ethnicity, religion or cultural background. Make sure that children’s cultural heritage can be enjoyed and be part of play for them, by: ● checking that they have access to books and toys that ●

● ●

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reflect and promote their heritage ensuring that when making a special book or memory box with a child, it reflects the child’s culture and heritage too visiting places of interest to the child’s cultural and ethnic background finding out about traditional dishes (as food is an important part of our cultural traditions) and having some fun cooking and enjoying them together finding out about cultural traditions, talking about them and taking part in celebrations.

Carers Can! Foster Play West Midlands

When I look back to my childhood I always remember playing – having a good time with my family and mates and playing outdoors especially. It seems like playing was all I did, obviously it wasn’t but those memories are so strong! Lakhvir Sahota, Play England, West Midlands


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Children’s play experts say there are many different kinds of play.* Children are doing and experiencing different things in each of them, and all have benefits. Can you recognise how your children are playing? 1

Symbolic play – children control,

4

Social play – where the rules are clear and everyone keeps to them, for example playing board, skipping or card games; or even making something together. The rules can be changed but everyone has to abide by them

7

Rough-and-tumble play – chasing, 3 wrestling, rolling about but clearly enjoying it – children are in close contact with each other, learning about their strength and that of others, it is exciting and breathless. It helps children learn about touch and get to know each other.

2

explore and increase their understanding by using a symbol, such as a piece of string to symbolise a wedding ring.

5

Dramatic play – play about something that the child was not directly involved in – it could be a religious or festive event, something from TV or an event the child has attended such as a wedding.

10 Fantasy play – when the child can rearrange their world their way, for example, playing at being a pilot flying around the world or a mermaid swimming under the sea.

13 Mastery play – this involves children controlling and doing things to change their environment, like digging holes, changing the course of streams, making shelters or building fires.

Creative play – children create something of their own, adding their ideas in the way they want. They are making something for its own sake whether it’s mud pies, a drawing or a complex road system for toy cars involving furniture and the dog! 8

Socio-dramatic play – children recreate real or possible experiences, often from their daily lives, like playing at house, looking after the baby, being the teacher in a class, telling off a naughty child.

6 Communication play – children express themselves with words, play-acting, mime, jokes, mickeytaking, singing, poetry and so on.

Deep play – where the child experiences risk and must develop survival skills and conquer fears, for example, taking part in an assault course or indoor rock-climbing.

11 Imaginative play – when the rules of the world don’t apply so the child can be a tree or a lion, or pat a dog which isn’t there.

that uses 14 Object play – play ent of objects, vem mo handling and rush or a pair ntb pai a ng such as usi of scissors.

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Exploratory play – the child finds out something by exploring it: how it works, what it does or could do. The child uses lots of touching and manipulating, such as a toddler when stacking and scattering brick s or older children when building complex structures.

12 Locomotor play – where children can move freely. This includes familiar childhood games like chase, hide-and-seek and just running around.

15 Role play – when children explore different ways of being but not of an intensely personal nature, so maybe they are driving a car or using a mobile phone.

16 Recapitulative play – play that allows the child to explore ancestry, history, rituals, stories, rhymes, fire and darkness.

*Adapted from: Hughes B (1996) A Playworker’s Taxonomy of Play Types. PLAYLINK.

Training and qualifications in playwork Visit www.skillsactive.com/playwork for general information about playwork training. Select ‘Qualifications’ to view a leaflet about NVQ level 3 courses, which are fully funded for a limited time only. Visit the website www.playworkactivepassport.com then select ‘Pathways to Playwork’ to find out about playwork endorsed training and approved qualifications in the West Midlands. Or email Steve Jolly, Play Strategy Manager, at steve.jolly@ skillsactive.com to find out more including advice and support.


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60 ACTIVE MINUTES Do your kids get theirs everyday? Active kids are happy kids – they like to be up and about, running around and having fun. The trouble is, in this modern world they’ve got other things to do and plenty of reasons not to go outside and play or run around. In fact, kids need to do at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity that gets their heart beating faster than usual. And they need to do it every day to burn off calories and prevent them from storing up excess fat in the body which can lead to cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Even at school they are sitting for much of the day, so getting the right amount of after-school activity is important. Don’t forget their 60 active minutes a day at the weekend too!

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Here are some top tips for active kids

• Get them off the bus and out of the car – if it’s walkable, walk it. • Clock up 60-minutes’ worth of active play each day – • • •

after school and at the weekend. This includes running around, going to playgrounds and kids’ outdoor games. And they’re all free! Get them splashing about. Whether it’s lengths of the pool, or just playing about in the shallow end, a trip to the pool is a great way to get them moving and wear them out. Get children outdoors to play – playing with balls and general playing outside is one of the best ways to get them moving and having fun. Got a dog? Take the kids with you when you walk it or maybe borrow a neighbour’s or friend’s dog.

Photo © Jon Parker Lee Photography Ltd


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Find out more • Play eye-spy on your

walk to make it more interesting or games like ‘how many of these can you spot?’ (dogs, cats, red vans, buses). You get the idea! Get them on a bike – and maybe join them yourself. It’s safer than you think, great fun and gives kids a sense of achievement. Almost everyone can learn to ride a bike and a cycling proficiency course will give them added confidence. Check out the clubs – look out for after school and community sports clubs and physical activity sessions. There are a wide range of sports and activities out there that

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How are the Kids? is a website with ideas, tips and information about how to keep children happy and healthy. Register on the site and you will get a free action pack tailored to your family, find out what’s happening near you and get regular updates. Why not log on at www.howarethekids.com or phone 0300 123 4567 (calls to 03 numbers should cost no more than geographic 01 or 02 calls). Find cycling proficiency courses near you by contacting your local authority or ask at the local library for details. Also try www.bikeability.org.uk Join Change4Life to get great practical ideas to keep you and your family eating well, moving more and living longer – little changes can make a big difference. Visit www.nhs.uk/change4life/ or phone 0300 123 4567 and find out what is happening in your local area. Visit your local authority’s website to see if children and young people in your area can access the government’s Swim4Life programme, a free swimming programme, and to find out what activities are available near you. Visit Youth Dance England to search the Youth Dance Directory to find dance opportunities in the West Midlands www.yde.org.uk


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UP AND ABOUT The way life is today means that most of us spend too long sitting down doing nothing. Remember kids’ bodies are designed to be active and moving around will help them burn off energy. Not being active means our bodies don’t burn off enough fat, which leads to it storing up inside. ‘2 hours max’ – You may find it helpful to set a limit to how long your children can sit still in front of the TV, computer or video game. Some families have found saying ‘2 hours max’ of screen time each day helps them to make sure kids jump up and play, or go outside after they’ve been sitting around for a while. Get them running around after school. We tend to think that they get loads of exercise at school, but they still need to be active out of school hours too. Get them up and about after eating, instead of plonking down in front of the telly. Moving around helps digestion and can be fun.

• •

These days it’s all too easy for kids to eat an unhealthy diet and be inactive, meaning they can end up storing unused energy as fat in their bodies. This can put them at a greater risk of preventable illnesses in later life, so Change4Life is really important to their future.

Find out more

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Find sports facilities near you at www.activeplaces.com County Sports and Physical Activity Partnership websites can tell you about local sports clubs and lots more. Visit: Birmingham: www.birmingham-sport.org.uk Black Country: www.the-blackcountry.com/beactive Coventry, Warwickshire & Solihull: www.cswsport.org.uk and search the directory Herefordshire & Worcestershire: www.morethansport.com Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin: www.shropshiretelfordwrekinsportspartnership.org.uk Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent www.sportacrossstaffordshire.co.uk

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PLAYTIME FOR CARERS Carers from Dudley, their families and the children and young people they look after, recently had a very special day out at the Black Country Living Museum. It was opened for the day just for them. Kath Smith and Elaine Wall, who have both been foster carers for many years, thought it was a wonderful day...

‘All the carers have been raving about it’ ‘It made us feel so special because it was just for us, we really felt valued’

The Black Country Living Museum Go underground in a coalmine, travel on a tramcar or take a lesson in an old fashioned school. This ‘living’ museum will take you back in time and let you meet the people who lived there. Find out more at www.bclm.co.uk Black Country Living Museum Trust, Tipton Road, Dudley DY1 4SQ Tel: 0121 557 9643 Cost: Family tickets (2 adults and 3 children) cost £34.95. Parking charge. www.show.me.uk is the UK’s galleries and museum website for children – use it to get children interested before you go or to explore places too far away to visit. The map shows what is near you and there are lots of activities and games to do online. Find out about museums and galleries near you, by visiting www.culture24.org.uk and searching under ‘Places to go’ then ‘West Midlands’ for up-to-date information about exhibitions and events.

Kath and Elaine described how a Pamper Day for foster carers can get those ‘feel good’ chemicals whizzing. It was organised by the Dudley Fostering Service in partnership with Halesowen College. The students got to try their beauty and massage skills and the carers had a day of delightful attention and treatments. We all enjoyed the treatments very much and agreed that it had shown us how important it is to take care of ourselves and make time to relax, as the foster caring task can certainly take its toll.

A manicure for Kath

‘If you don’t take care of yourself how can you take care of anyone else?’

Elaine gets a soothing facial


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Play and looked after children Play is an amazing tool that can help children get over difficulties, catch up on developmental delays and learn how to get on with others. That’s why play is so essential for looked after children – not only will it help them enjoy life and experience the joy of being a child but it can also help them recover from earlier difficult experiences. Looked after children may not have had the everyday and ordinary experiences of being cared for and stimulated that help children develop – it seems the brain, our feelings and emotions, learning to trust and get on with people need to grow and develop just as our height, weight, learning to walk and run need to. Children who have been neglected are likely to have been deprived of opportunities to play too – they may have had a lack of toys and stimulating environments, a limited range of places to explore, and little experience of adults who interact with them and encourage expression, for example. Experts tell us that children who have been deprived of play opportunities have: ● poorer ability in motor tasks ● lower levels of physical activity ● poorer ability to deal with stressful or traumatic situations

and events ● poorer ability to assess and manage risk ● poorer social skills, leading to difficulties in negotiating social situations such as dealing with conflict and cultural difference.

The child trauma expert Bruce Perry* has described the importance of play and pleasure for all children in the following way.

How learning is driven by play Play often stems from curiosity: Curiosity leads to exploration Exploration leads to discovery Discovery leads to pleasure Pleasure leads to repetition Repetition leads to mastery Mastery leads to new skills New skills lead to confidence Confidence leads to increased self-esteem Self-esteem leads to a sense of security Security leads to more learning *Bruce Perry www.childtraumaacademy.com

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The Importance of Play Kim Golding, a Clinical Psychologist in Worcestershire, explains... In the early years play is the main way by which children learn about themselves, the world and how to relate to other people. Whilst attachment helps a child to feel secure and safe, play and exploration helps a child to learn and to develop confidence. Children who have been traumatized or have experience of highly insecure attachments will put their energy into trying to feel safe and secure. This reduces play and exploration; novelty becomes frightening rather than exciting and the need to remain vigilant inhibits play and fun. Helping the child to feel safe and secure enough to play is an important part of helping the child in care.


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HELPING CHILDREN TRUST Tracey Taylor, an experienced foster carer from Coventry, has been using play to help the children she cares for build up their selfesteem and to develop trust between her and the children. Some children have just not learnt or had good experiences of basic things like making eye contact. For them being touched may not have been a good experience, it may have been about anger or neglect or abuse, so it is hard for the child to be touched or even get close to someone, it can be too frightening or the child just freezes. Carers can help children build trust and relationships using playful games. I did a parenting course and what a great time I had, I found out what it was like to be a child all over again. At the end of the day we were given a box that contained paints, paper, face paints and, believe it or not, cotton wool balls! I had a little girl placed with me who didn’t trust adults, wouldn’t make eye contact with me and hated to be touched. I decided to spend 10 minutes every day trying some of the activities from the course. And you know what? It really worked! She changed from a child who panicked at any type of touch to a child who would interact and have eye contact with me - she would come in from school bursting with excitement about what she had done that day, in a nutshell she learnt to trust me. I bet you are wondering how I did it…

Well it’s easy... but there is one golden rule... always make the child or young person feel safe first – if the game or activity involves touch, do tell them and check it is okay with them. I started with some simple playground clapping games – it got her near to me and we looked at our hands and at each other’s faces but she could keep a safe distance from me and know that nothing was going to happen except the clapping game. She enjoyed it and after a few days could not wait for us to play together for those 10 minutes. Then we moved on to try some different things. Drawing a football pitch on a big piece of paper with goals at each end, we played a game of football but used straws to blow cotton wool balls into the goals. It meant lots of interaction and looking at each other. Face painting was great as touch and trust was needed, I talked to her while I was painting her face – saying how nice it was to do something together and telling her what I was doing. You can adapt this for older children and teenagers by making face masks instead – although many still enjoy the facepaints whatever their age! I used hand creams to massage her hands, all the while talking to her about little details of how different our hands are. We did some cooking together – there were lots of chances for being close to each other, for example mixing ingredients in a bowl together, helping her to roll out pastry by putting my hands on hers. It was fun to make things together and eat them together. I drew outlines of an eye and asked her to paint my eye – she had to keep looking at me to get it right – lots of chances for giggles and smiles but at a safe distance. It made eye contact a pleasant experience for her. We used paints to talk about and describe feelings, for example I mixed colours to show that colours may change just as feelings do – angry colours can become happy colours.

Communicating through play Techniques for assessing and preparing children for adoption by Berni Stringer This guide provides some creative, simple to do and fun activities to help children talk about their feelings, fears and hopes. It includes activities that can help a child build closeness, explore family relationships and enhance self-esteem. This book is about how to help children move forward to a successful and permanent family and home.

Tracey reviewed Communicating through play and said: ‘This book has some great for tips and ideas that would work well for primary-school-aged children leaving for new homes and help them to discuss how they feel. It doesn’t really cover younger children and, in my experience, it is more difficult to find how they are feeling except through observing their behaviour. I would definitely find this book useful for helping children move on to a permanent family and home.’ Available from: British Association for Adoption and Fostering www.baaf.org.uk Tel: 020 7421 2604 Cost: £11.95 plus £2.00 postage and packing


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BUILDING RESILIENCE Being able to deal with the ups and downs of life is something that looked after children and young people can find difficult. They are easily put off and can give up at the first setback. Research has identified* what you can do to help children and young people become more resilient.

What helps build resilience

What you can do

1

Strong social support networks

Get them involved in local activities, play provision, groups and clubs – they will get to meet people their own age and adults in the community.

2

At least one unconditionally supportive parent or parent substitute

You are the parent substitute but it could also be a member of the child’s family – help them keep in contact if possible. Playing with a child is one of the most supportive things you can do.

3

A committed mentor or other person from outside the family

Sometimes a playworker, youth worker, sports coach, a mentor or family support worker might be just the right person to take an interest in a child and encourage them.

4

Positive school experiences

Make it about more than just going to school if you can – after-school activities, school events and school trips can all help a child get more out of school and be more successful at school. Be sure to attend parents evenings and special events to show your support.

5

A sense of mastery and a belief that one’s own efforts can make a difference

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Carers Can! Foster Play West Midlands

If a child has an interest or a special talent, then encourage it and support them to do it. Help them develop interests and hobbies – doing something they like is the best way to become good at it. Playing in different ways can help children learn what they are good at and gives you a chance to spot their talents.


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Participation in a range of extracurricular activities that promote self esteem

Help children to do things that make them feel good – remind them when they have achieved something, go to events they are part of, be proud of them, encourage them to bring friends home to play and make their friends welcome.

7

The capacity to re frame adversities so that the beneficial as well as the damaging effects are recognised

Be supportive when things do not go as expected or go wrong but also show them how to deal with disappointments – a ‘never mind, what could we do differently next time? ‘ type approach.

8

The ability – or opportunity – to ‘make a difference’ by helping others or through part time work

Encourage children and young people to see what a difference they have made. Helping with pets can be a good activity to try. Keep reminding them when they have done something that helps someone else. Give positive feedback to children’s own perceived achievements when they are playing. Support young people to find interesting work-experience placements.

9

Not to be excessively sheltered from challenging situations which provide opportunities to develop coping skills

Children and young people need to experience risk so that they can learn about their physical, social and emotional possibilities and limits and those of their environment – adventurous play is a good and safe way to do this.

Find out more

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A new website for parents uses short videos of parents and carers and childcare experts talking about how to deal with the everyday issues of being a parent – including a section on ‘well-being’. Visit www.parentchannel.t v

*Newman T and Blackburn S, (2002) Transitions in the Lives of Children and Young People: Resilience factors. Interchange No 78 Scottish Executive Education Department

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HEALTH AND PLAY Jo replies:

Just ask

Dear Sharon

Jo Thompson, Named Nurse for Looked after Children, answers a common worry from a foster carer in the West Midlands

First of all check with his doctor or asthma nurse to make sure that his asthma is controlled as well as it can be.

Dear Jo I am caring for a nine-year-old boy who is quite overweight and also has asthma – sometimes he is very breathless and has had a few bad attacks since he has been with us. I think it would be good for him to be more active as his favourite activities are computer games and watching TV! It would probably help him lose weight too but I am not sure what to suggest or if it will spark off an asthma attack. He likes football and supports Worcester City but he doesn’t want to play – he says he’ll be rubbish and need his inhaler. My husband was thinking of taking him to a home match and having a bit of a kick about with him in the park to get him interested. I think we need something for him to do more often and that won’t cause a problem, I think he is a bit embarrassed about his size too. What would you suggest? Sharon

Find out more

You need to find something that your young lad feels confident with and enjoys. Talk to him about what he might like to do. Whatever it is keep it short and informal – your idea of a trip to a football match and a kick-about in the park might just get him interested and give him confidence. Try not to rush him to join something before he is ready. Think about other things he might like to do – maybe swimming – and encourage him to walk more. He might prefer to do something with you or your family rather than join a club or team. Whatever activity he does it is important to: ● tell the people he exercises with that he has asthma (whether it

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Visit www.asthma.org.uk where there is a section for parents and carers and you can order free information booklets including: Out there and active a guide for parents and carers of young people with asthma – tips and advice Asthma and my child – information and advice Asthma UK also have an Adviceline staffed by asthma nurse specialists, 08457 01 02 03 www.kickasthma.org.uk is a fun website for children and young people packed with games and quizzes that help to explain asthma in child-friendly language and feature the Kick-A crew.

You are not alone, one in eleven children in the UK has asthma. Regular exercise benefits everybody – including people with asthma – it keeps our heart, bones and digestive system healthy. Being more active and staying fit can improve asthma and help with weight control.

is formal like a training session or an informal kickabout with friends) ● always make sure he has his Reliever inhaler with him when exercising ● increase exercise levels gradually ● make sure he always warms up and cools down thoroughly ● if he has asthma symptoms when exercising, he should stop and use his Reliever inhaler, and wait until he feels better before carrying on ● if exercise triggers his asthma symptoms he should use the Reliever inhaler immediately before warming up ● if he has Preventer medicine he should take this as prescribed ● help him to avoid contact with other things that trigger the asthma. Taking part in activities can help him develop confidence and selfesteem as well as give him the chance to meet and make friends with other children and, of course, to have a good time. You might want to mention that a few famous sports people have asthma too – like footballer David Beckham and athlete Paula Radcliffe – and it hasn’t stopped them!

Did you know

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NHS Choices is the one stop website for everything to do with health. If you want to find out about a condition, check symptoms, get advice or find out about healthy lifestyles for yourself and the children then visit www.nhs.uk

If you need to talk to someone you can call NHS Direct on 0845 4647 24-hours-a-day.

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Mandy Bainbridge, Designated Nurse for Looked After Children in Warwickshire, and Emma Kirk, KIDS Playwork Inclusion Project, suggest how to support young people to do activities of their choice

Mandy replies: Dear Leila Yes, it can be a bit of worry – it’s that balance between helping young people do something more challenging and making sure they are safe. First, find out if this young woman would like to do horse riding on a regular basis – it may have been fun once but she might not want to do it every week! The 2009 Statutory Guidance on Promoting the Health and Wellbeing of Looked after Children says that ‘Access to positive leisure activities is vital to well-being and provides opportunities to meet and interact with others, build social or other skills and self-esteem, to develop friendships and to come into contact with trusted adults.’ If this young woman wants to do horse riding or another activity then it would fit perfectly with the guidance. Gather some information and get back to the social worker. iately ● It is important to ensure that the riding school has appropr are: ask to ns qualified staff, so questio – Are they approved by the British Horse Society (www.bhs.org.uk) or the Association of British Riding Schools (www.abrs-info.org)? You can also check this yourself via the websites. – Do they provide instructors with expertise and experience in working with disabled people? – Do they provide any Riding for the Disabled group sessions? – Can they provide or hire safety equipment? about ● Check the Riding for the Disabled website for information They uk). da.org. (www.r area your in s activitie and their groups benefit to drive carriage or ride to people disabled aim to enable their health and well-being. Suggest the social worker looks at the case studies on their website describing this. ● Contact the school and ask how she coped on the school trip, what advantages do they think horse riding could offer and would they have any concerns? It will give you more information to help make a decision and convince the social worker. Raise it for discussion at the young woman’s next LAC review, encourage her to say what she thinks about it. Suggest her interests are included on her health plan and education plan as this will help her get support to keep up her interests, including possibly using her personal educational allowance to support leisure activities.

Find out more

Dear Mandy and Emma I would like to get the teenage girl we care for involved in some activities that are safe but exciting too. She’s 13 and has learning difficulties - she’s very shy and can be too trusting with people and she has been bullied by other children. I think she needs an interest or somewhere to go where she can make friends but still be supervised a bit - she needs to learn to get on with other kids her own age, make some local friends and feel good about herself. As she goes to a special school, her school friends don’t live nearby. She did horse riding on a school trip once and still talks about it, so I thought that might be good as there are stables fairly near. I asked her social worker but she s not keen as she says it might be dangerous. I am at a bit of a loss. Leila

Emma replies: Dear Leila There are risks to horse riding, but encourage the social worker to look at the benefits of the activity. This young woman is already shy and may not have the same social opportunities and skills as others her age. Encouraging her to do activities that interest her and with people her age could have a big impact on her social development. And she has a right to play! National charity KIDS advocates the Bridging Model – a bridging or link worker to link a young person and their family with an activity provider or setting. Several local authorities now have versions of this model. Over time, as confidence grows, the bridging worker withdraws. Some bridging workers are attached to a specified group of settings. For more information on the model contact KIDS at www.kids.org.uk/pip Aiming High for Disabled Children is a government programme funding short breaks for disabled children, young people and their families. It can also support disabled children and young people to do activities that they want to do. In this case, that sounds like horse riding! All local authorities have funding but they may use it in different ways. Ask the social worker how it works in your area. Have you considered a personal assistant (PA) to help this young woman access any activities she wants to try, including horse riding. The PA would be in the background to make sure her needs are met. This support can be accessed using Direct Payments. Under-16s can’t apply for Direct Payments, but as the person with parental responsibility, and as you are already in contact with social services, you may be able to access it on her behalf. Talk to the social worker, or try visiting www.direct.gov.uk for more information.

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www.rda.org.uk Riding for the Disabled Association provides informa tion about groups around the country and other support, such as specialist equipment. They also offer opportu nities for learning about horses and being involved in their care, as well as providing therapy. www.cafamily.org.uk Contact a Family is a charity providing advice, informa tion and support to the parents of all disabled children. Its website lists local groups and activities in the West Midlands.


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s e c a l p g n i z Ama

to play in the

Why not visit one of these great new play spaces and get your children and young people to test them out. Built using both lottery money and government playbuilder funding, these spaces have been designed with children in mind and are just waiting for you to come and have some fun. Contact each playground to see what's on offer.

Wolverhampton

Dudley

Old Fallings Adventure Playground Old Fallings Crescent, Low Hill, Wolverhampton WV10 9PU Tel: 01902 552 303

Sycamore Adventure Sycamore Green Adventure Centre, Old Park Farm Estate, Dudley DY1 3QE www.sycamoreadventure.co.uk

This exciting, inclusive adventure playground has a part-buried dome, allowing play to go on inside and on top of the building, a secret garden with boulders, tunnels, water features, a storytelling area and more.

State of the art indoor and outdoor adventure play facilities, completely accessible for children with disabilities. It is the only adventure playground in the country to offer overnight, shortbreak accommodation for children with profound and complex disabilities. You need to book to visit and can do this online at: www.sycamoreadventure.co.uk or phone 01384 813755.

Staffordshire Craythorne Woods Adventure Play Area Craythorne Road, Rolleston on Dove, Staffordshire DE13 0BA Tel: 01785 278 709 In a rural setting, this site encourages children to explore the natural environment. Constructed by the community, there is large mound, a space net, a shelter and challenging adventurous kit for older children.

Allesley Park

Coventry Allesley Park Allesley Hall, Drive Allesley Park, Coventry CV5 9AD Tel: 02476 832368 Discover lots of natural play opportunities, tree trunks to climb on, a big zip wire and climbing structure, a crazy spinning top and musical play equipment. It is within a large park and has many other attractions including crazy golf, a walled garden, footpaths and plenty of open space to enjoy.

Craythorne Woods

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West Midlands Worcestershire Broadway Play Area High Street, Broadway, WR12 7DT Tel: 01386 854 813 This large site caters for all age ranges and includes a toddler play area, tunnels and a pendulum swing. There is also a climbing wall and boulder, a roundabout and a highintensity, physical zone – plenty for everyone to let off steam! To access the area follow the alleyway at the side of the pub on the High Street.

Broadway Play Area

Warwickshire Caldecott Park Lancaster Road, Rugby, Warwickshire CV21 2QN Tel: 01788 547 621 Located in this popular town centre park, this Heritage Lottery Fund supported play area offers interesting and stimulating equipment for children of all age ranges and includes a toddlers’ play area.

Find out more

Find out more

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For information about play spaces and activities for children and young people in your area:

Caldecott Park

Check your local authority website and see what is available for children and young people – it will also tell you about special events. Ask at your local library – there will usually be a directory of children’s services.

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For more information on any of these or other sites across the West Midlands, contact Play England – West Midlands on 0121 245 0159 or email play-wm@ncb.org.uk

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Who said that? ng people and parents, ldren, you Our aim, shared with chi e and le to enjoy a range of saf ab be to en is for all childr se to where they live. exciting places to play clo ent! Play strategy 2008 Answer: The Governm

Phone your local Family Information Service or Children’s Information Service – you can find the number through your local authority website or ask at the library. Visit www.cafamily.org.uk – a UK-wide charity providing advice, information and support to the parents of all disabled children. Check the ‘In your area’ section and search for West Midlands or phone 0808 808 3555 Use the postcode finder at www.nhs.uk/change4life to find out about sports and leisure facilities near you. If you live in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton, visit www.playspace.tv to find out about local play spaces.


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RISKS AND BENEFITS OF PLAY It is often said that children are too protected these days – parents and carers are afraid to let them out of their sight – we worry about traffic, ‘stranger danger’, air pollution, allergies, stray dogs, germs and so the list goes on.

Foster carer Mandy Blair from Birmingham has some words of advice A risk-benefit assessment is just a list of what you are going to do about something and what you are going to do is common sense. Don’t let it put you off doing an activity – see it more as a ‘To do’ list. We are constantly risk-benefit assessing but don’t notice it or record it because it is a part of what we do – every time you get rid of a broken toy you are risk-benefit assessing, making sure children are securely fastened with seatbelts in the car and taking the first aid box with you on a trip out... it’s common sense, sensible and practical. When I go out on trips somewhere new I check it out first – so for something like an adventurous activity I want to know what equipment and training they have, what their insurance covers, do they provide specialist equipment and so on . You can check this when you check times and how much it will cost. Then write it down as that’s how you show you have done a risk-benefit assessment. Remember children do exciting activities all the time and most don’t come to harm – in fact, they have a very good and safe time! For some activities you will need permission from the child’s social worker and/ or parent, so talk to them about it – tell them what you have found out and the benefits for the child. Disabled children sometimes get fewer opportunities to try exciting activities but most things can be adapted and access is getting better all the time – we need to keep thinking ‘Oh yes we can!’

Risk-benefit assessment Issy Cole-Hamilton of Play England suggests we look at risk more positively: ‘When you are doing a risk assessment think about the benefits of the activity as well as the risks. This way you will be able to make a balanced judgement about the suitability of the activity for the child and what they – and you – might get out of it.’

Playday 2009 in Dudley

The government says children must learn to manage risks... Children need to take risks to learn how to manage risks. This is an essential part of growing up, and play is one of the most important ways in which they develop this vital skill. Riding a bicycle, climbing a scramble net or pushing a friend on a swing all involve risk. We cannot, and should not try to, remove all the risk from play. The Play Strategy 2008 22

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Health and safety myths ‘Health and Safety’ is the butt of many jokes and is supposedly what’s stopped us doing all sorts of everyday things. Well the Health and Safety Executive have published a series of myth busting posters and a myth busting calendar... have a chuckle! Myth: Children need to be wrapped in cotton wool to keep them safe The reality Health and safety law is often used as an excuse to stop children taking part in exciting activities, but well-managed risk is good for them. It engages their imagination, helps them learn and even teaches them to manage risks for themselves in the future. They won’t understand about risk if they’re wrapped in cotton wool. Risk itself won’t damage children, but ill-managed and overprotective actions could!

Myth: Kids must wear goggles to play conkers The reality Iit’s one of the oldest chestnuts around – a truly classic myth. A well-meaning headteacher decided children should wear safety goggles to play conkers. Subsequently some schools appear to have banned conkers on ‘health and safety’ grounds or made children wear goggles, or even padded gloves! Realistically, the risk from playing conkers is incredibly low and just not worth bothering about. If kids deliberately hit each other over the head with conkers, that’s a discipline issue, not a health and safety one. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence

Find out more

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The Child Accident Prevention Trust provides expert and practical information on how to prev ent accidents to children and young people. Visit www.capt.o rg.uk or test your knowledge in the parent and carer safety quizzes at www.childsafetyweek.org.uk (loo k in the parent section), you can also sign up for a free child safe ty week booklet and poster. Information on First Aid for parents and carers of babies and young children – how to deal with eme rgencies like choking, burns, an unconscious child and mor e – is available at www.childrenfirstaid.redcross.org.u k RoSPA’s child safety information cove rs issues such as car seats, carrying other people’s children in a car, safety in the home and lots more. Visit www.rospa.com or phone 0121 248 2000.


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c Mud and Mud and Find out more Tracey Reynolds, an experienced foster carer from Herefordshire, enjoys getting out into the countryside with the children she cares for. As a family we often go to a small local wood. We never tire of it and nor do the children – even the older ones. A favourite game is for one trustworthy youngster to go ahead and lay a trail of arrows made with sticks. We follow the trail with the younger children and it almost always ends up at a small stream. That usually leads to splashing about and building a dam out of branches and twigs – great fun. Sometimes there is a bit of tree climbing too. We end up at a small lake for a picnic. I don’t know if mud builds confidence but getting mucky seems to be very popular. I always bring bin bags to put on the car seats for the very muddy children to sit on! The children love these days out – there is something so carefree about them and it costs practically nothing but time and some extra washing.

Tracey’s tips for a successful day out in the country ● Bring raincoats and wellies – then it doesn’t

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matter about mud or rain, in fact that might be even better! Pack lots of drinks and a picnic – then you can stop wherever you like then. Include something hot in a flask, there may not be a cafe and it is warming on a cold day. Pack the essentials – bin bags for muddy clothes and boots, wet wipes and tissues, and the First Aid box. Stuff a carrier bag in your pocket for those treasures that are found on the way – feathers, special pebbles, conkers, interesting leaves and unusual twigs. Remember the camera – photos of a muddy child in the middle of puddle can be just the best, the children love them. Don’t plan anything for the evening – the children may fall asleep in the car but you will have to wait until later... A day in the woods is very tiring!

Carers Can! Foster Play West Midlands

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www.wildlifewatch.org.uk is the website of the junior branch of The Wildlife Trust. It has lots of information about wildlife and activities to do at home, indoors and out. You can register for more information and free downloads, like bird-spotting charts, and find your local Wildlife Trust. www.bbc.co.uk/breathingplaces/ tells you about places near you where children can explore the natural world and there are suggestions for activities to bring nature to your doorstep. www.naturedetectives.org.uk provides child-friendly information about how to find out more about nature, including games and quizzes and ideas for things to do. www.rspb.org.uk/youth/ the children’s section of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds with lots of activities and games for all ages plus a free book to send off for. www.naturalengland.org.uk the Countryside Visitors section includes places to enjoy the natural environment near you, check Breathing Places and Nature Reserves.


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confidence Foster care secrets

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Photo © Z Bunter

When a child gains knowledge about something and becomes a bit of an ‘expert’ they also get to feel successful. So becoming a bird watcher, a rock collector or a bug detective can help them gain more than you think.

You don’t have to live in the countryside to introduce children to the natural world – a garden or park will do just fine. Here are some activities to try…

Build a bug hotel Provide a lovely home for all sorts of bugs and beasties... Find a quiet part of the garden for the children to build their bug hotel – it’s best if it’s not disturbed too much by footballs and the like. Collect twigs, branches and dried leaves – you can find ideas for bug hotels at www.buglife.org.uk/getinvolved/gardening/ It doesn’t have to be a five star bug hotel – they will be quite happy with a simple one! Encourage the children to visit the bug hotel regularly and – without disturbing the guests – to notice how many have moved in and what kind of guests have been attracted. Really keen bug hoteliers will want to keep a guest list, draw them, count them – just make sure they don’t get invited home for tea! A magnifying glass can make looking at small bugs much more interesting.

Making something, like the bug hotel, helps children feel that they are capable of doing different things. Every time they see it they remember that they did that – and look at it now!

You might want to get a book about insects to help children recognise them, so try the library. And visit www.buglife.org.uk/discoverbugs and www.wildlifetrusts.org for lifelike images of bugs and mini beasts of all kinds!


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Great places to go in the Carding Mill Valley

Cannon Hill Park

Birmingham Nature Centre

Central Forest Park

The West Midlands has some fantastic places for a good day out for all ages. Doing something different together gives everyone a break, getting outdoors helps let off steam and it’s a great way to get some exercise. Don’t forget to take photos... they add to happy childhood memories. Birmingham Nature Centre and Cannon Hill Park are just two miles from the city centre. This delightful animal kingdom is home to otters, deer, wallaby, pigs, rabbits, reptiles and many more animals. It is right next to the River Rea and Cannon Hill Park. The park has a children’s play area, boating lake, wild flower meadow, tennis courts and cycling route. A fantastic day out – bring a picnic! Birmingham Nature Centre, Pershore Road, Birmingham B5 7RL Tel: 0121 472 7775 – Nature Centre Tel: 0121 442 4226 – Cannon Hill Park Websites: www.birmingham.gov.uk/naturecentre (weekends only in the winter) and www.birmingham.gov.uk/ cannonhillpark Cost for the Nature Centre: £3.00 for adults, £1 for children aged 5 to 15, under-5s go free, £2.00 concessions.

Central Forest Park, Hanley is home to the largest skate plaza in Europe and, if that’s not enough, there is a safari-themed adventure play facility and bouldering area – for children and adults to climb over – cycle routes, a picnic area, a lake and of course a forest! The park can be easily reached on foot from Stoke-on-Trent city centre and there is a car park off Chell Street by the lake. Central Forest Park, Chell Street, Sneyd Green, Stoke-on-Trent ST1 6BB Tel: 01782235108 Website: www.visitstoke.co.uk and look in Fun for the Kids for Central Forest Park

Carding Mill Valley and the Shropshire Hills are great places for a wild day out – walk through upland heath and picnic by countryside streams. See the famous Long Mynd, the most important upland for wild birds in the West Midlands. A fantastic place for nature lovers, with lots of bugs, birds, trees, fish, wild flowers and interesting geology. National Trust tearooms, a shop and toilets are at: Chalet Pavilion, Carding Mill Valley, Church Stretton, Shropshire SY6 6JG Tel: 01694 723068 Discovery Visitor Centre shop, information, cafe and toilets are at: Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre, School Road, Craven Arms, Shropshire SY7 9RS Websites: www.cardingmillvalley.org.uk and www.shropshirehills.info

Central Forest Park

Cost: free.

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Carding Mill Valley and the Shropshire Hills

Carers Can! Foster Play West Midlands

Cost: free – be prepared for the weather and being outdoors all day.


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West Midlands Telford Town Park

Telford Town Park

Worcestershire Woods

Foster care secrets…

Coombe Country Park

!

Bring a packed lunch – it’s cheaper and can be healthier and you won’t waste time queuing or trying to find somewhere that suits everyone.

Telford Town Park is just minutes from the town centre but worlds away – with a nature reserve, ponds, woodlands and wildlife. There are also activities for children: a wooden adventure park, an amazing rocket slide and enclosed sand area for toddlers. So there’s something for everyone, including a cafe for a cup of tea! Telford Town Park, Spout Farm House, Telford TF3 4AQ Tel: 01952 382340 Website: www.telfordtownpark.co.uk Cost: entry to the park is free; the Teddies Town Train around the park costs £1 for adults, 50p for children, under-3s go free.

Coombe Country Park offers woodlands and the first ‘climbing forest’ in England – great for climbing, scrambling and swinging through trees. Walk around the lake, play games on the open field and younger visitors will enjoy the playground where some equipment has been designed for disabled children. Coombe Country Park, Brinklow Road, Binley, Coventry, West Midlands CV3 2AB Tel: 02476 453720 Website: www.coventry.gov.uk/coombe Cost: free, £3.00 car park charge.

Worcester Woods Country Park has a hundred acres of ancient oak woodland to wander through – a rare experience for us all these days. Its waymarked walks, nature reserve, orchard and children’s play area provide the space and freedom to let off steam and enjoy the natural world. You can download a children’s activity pack from the website before you visit.

Consider going by train – if you book tickets in advance and use a Family Railcard it can be very cheap. Using the train can be a bit of an adventure, you avoid traffic jams and it’s less pressure on the person who usually drives... probably! To find out about rail travel visit www.nationalrail.co.uk Plan a trip with others – with another fostering family or large family – by joining together you may qualify for large group discounts at attractions. Check websites and publicity materials for details. Keep a box of essential items ready to take on trips out – like first aid, travel wipes and sunscreen – it saves trying to remember to pack it all on the morning of a trip. Look out for special offers for local attractions – they are often advertised in local newspapers but you may need to buy them regularly to collect tokens, etc. Check the weather forecast before you leave at www.bbc.co.uk/weather – at least you’ll be prepared!

For more great ideas for days out in the West Midlands: www.visittheheart.co.uk – look out for the top free attractions page. www.enjoyengland.com – search for places to go and special events near you or further afield. www.nationaltrust.org.uk parks, mansions and open spaces across the West Midlands, some are free or an annual family ticket is good value.

Worcester Woods Countryside Centre, Wildwood Drive, Worcester WR5 2LG Tel: 01905 766493 Website: www.worcestershire.gov.uk and search for Worcester Woods. Cost: free.

Worcestershire Woods


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Play England have developed a Charter for Children’s Play. It sets out a vision for play, outlining the basic principles of what play means for children and what we should all do to promote their right to enjoy it. For more information on the Charter and how you can order copies visit www.playengland.co.uk/resources

y la p o t t h ig r e h t e v Children ha Every child needs time and space to play Adults should let children play Children should be able to play freely in their local areas Children value and benefit from st affed play provision Children’s play is enriched by skilled playworkers

Children at school need time and space to play ed e n s e im t e m o s n e Childr eir h t y jo n e o t t r o p p extra su right to play


FOST magazine