After spending a month writing Give us a chance appeal stories and hearing so many people praising the good work Trowbridge children’s centre Stepping Stones does, I felt it was time I saw what they do first-hand.
While I was at the centre, in Broadcloth Lane, they let me join their caterpillar room activities helping four-year-old Ruby, who has Downs Syndrome.
Ruby, has been going to Stepping Stones since she was a baby and was one of 10 children in the class at the centre who serve west Wiltshire youngsters with learning difficulties and disabilities.
During our time together we dressed as builders, played with blocks and read books.
These might sound like basic activities but the fun we had also stimulates Ruby’s mind and the repetition helps build her memory and observational skills.
After free play, the bubbly little girl joined her other classmates for registration and a team of five Stepping Stones staff worked together to notice any changes and development in the children.
Amanda Bush, play leader, took the session giving the youngsters a choice of cards with their names on with them needing to find their own.
Her colleagues made notes of the children’s individual behaviour with their findings being used to cater sessions to the progress they are making.
As part of the class, the children and staff sing to welcome each pupil, with Makaton sign language also used as part of the song.
I was overwhelmed by the effectiveness of the activity and how simple Stepping Stones’ staff made such a complex task, with the skill likely to be a huge benefit to the children’s future communication.
Later in the day, the children took part in group work, outside play, craftwork sessions and even made pancakes.
In the summer, these children will leave Stepping Stones and head to either mainstream or specialist education.
From my brief time at the centre it is very apparent their lives will be much the better thanks to the efforts of Stepping Stones and my visit emphasised how it vital it is that such a valuable resource remains part of our community.
It was a pleasure visiting Stepping Stones and I hope the fundraising campaign continues to go from strength to strength and the charity succeeds in its annual quest to raise £50,000.