“No one day is the same”
Here at Leeds Mencap we run play schemes, for children aged 4-18 years old during the school holidays. Our play schemes are all about having fun, trying new experiences and spending quality time with friends. Importantly, they also help children to maintain social skills and confidence that can both be negatively affected by the holiday breaks.
Our play schemes would not be able to run successfully without the support of our amazing staff. We recently sat down with two of our play scheme workers to give them the opportunity to chat about why they love play schemes so much!
Stacey has previous experience of supporting children with special educational needs in a mainstream school setting. When we chatted with her, she noted that she really enjoys working with the children outside of a school setting at our playschemes. This is because play schemes are much more focused on enjoyment and playing and the children get to give their input into what activities they do. “Take today for example, the activity was Halloween biscuit making, but if a child didn’t feel like making biscuits then they could sit out or do another activity. You don’t always get that kind of freedom in schools, as the activities are much more rigid” she said. When asked about her favourite moments from this October’s play schemes, she recalled really enjoying watching the children take part in sensory play with a jelly slime “brain” as part of their Halloween activities. “The children were mesmerized by the slime and it was so nice to see.”
Angelica began as a play scheme volunteer back in 2017 when she was just 16 years old, before becoming a paid play scheme worker in 2021. Initially, Angelica volunteered for play schemes due to her keen interests in studying child psychotherapy and in gaining experience working with children with additional needs. She said that supporting our play schemes was even more rewarding than she ever imagined it to be. She told us “My favourite thing about play schemes is that no one day is ever the same, it’s always different and you never know what to expect”. She also explained how she enjoys seeing the gentle and kind side of children who may previously have been labelled as having challenging behavior due to their additional needs- “We had a new little girl start today and It was so nice to see one of the children immediately greet her with a hug and welcome her into the group.”
How you can help
If you want to support our play schemes, a donation of £15 could pay for some arts and crafts equipment for a session. You can donate by calling us on 0113 235 1331 or you can simply text LEEDSMENCAP followed by your donation amount to 70085, to give that amount.