Each year, Sonas staff organise a Summer Project for the children in the service. It’s an action-packed few weeks of activities and outings and a real treat for the children involved. Tara Keogh, a children’s support worker, reports on this year’s project.
So we have just finished a month of Summer Project and what a month it’s been!!!
After months of planning activities, booking buses and buying materials we were ready for the fun to begin. For some of the children this was a first Summer Project so they really were not quite sure what to expect.
We started off close to home with arts and crafts. Most of the children were shy to start because they were seeing new faces from other complexes. We all knew this wouldn’t last long and sure enough by the end of day one there were lots of new friends. Everyone went home with lovely colourful painted t-shirts, decorated plant pots and wearing haute couture spray-painted hats.
All the designer gear made the previous day was modelled on Wednesday’s Sports Day. It was a colourful day and thankfully we got the weather for it. There were races of all sorts, soccer games and some who chose to just chill in the sun.
The next day was an early start as we hit the road for Clara Lara Fun Park in Wicklow. All were advised to bring lots of spare clothes and they were definitely needed. Within a few minutes most of the gang were soaking wet, including some Mothers and staff (though this was not necessarily planned!!!) For the smallies and those preferring dry activities there was a giant sand pit and lots of playground facilities. There were lots of sleepy heads on the bus home and that wasn’t just the children!!
The following week we went to Dublin Zoo. This was a first for lots of the children so they were very excited. In particular, there was a new baby giraffe that we were dying to see. It was a nice family day as lots of the Mothers came along and had the opportunity to spend time with their children on an outing. We made our way around the entire zoo and even the smaller ones opted for walking rather than buggies. The seals were a big hit as it was feeding time so that created lots of squeals of excitement. We had our picnic in the sun and were joined by a peacock, which was a good talking point for days afterwards.
On Wednesday the excitement started with discovering that we had a double decker bus all to ourselves!! We headed to the National Aquatic Centre and I have never seen a group get into their swim gear so fast. It was hard to stick to the rule of no running around the pool because there was so much to see and do. The wave machine was great to practice some surfing and the lazy river was a big hit with those who preferred the more leisurely approach to swimming. There was barely time for lunch, or so the children said, as it was wasting swimming time so I think we can safely say the day was enjoyed. One child said it was her happiest day!
Following swimming we had another action packed day in a play centre. The children loved running about the centre. They were up and down slides, in and out of ball pools and there was even time to try some karting. It was a chance for the Mummies to have a well deserved rest too, over chat and a coffee. We then moved to an outdoor playground for the afternoon as we wanted to cram in as much playing as possible…and we succeeded!
We decided that the teenagers deserved a day all to themselves so a group of 15 young adults were brought Go-Karting. There was no fear at all as they zoomed around the track! Staff, on the other hand, were a little more cautious (or chickens as the teens preferred to call them)! It was a lot of laughs. Then we got a big lunch in McDonalds to have everyone fed and watered before going to an extreme adventure centre.
There we tried archery but our aim was shaky, since we were a little nervous to say the least about the next activity….Arial Trekking. Everyone was harnessed in and buckled to wires three stories high. Then we were sent off around an obstacle course. It was very scary but a great confidence booster as all of them completed the course. With a sigh of relief we were ready to get back onto solid ground but instead the instructor had a higher course planned for us. With brave faces everyone went for it again and there was a buzz of delight after completing course number two. This was the day that was enjoyed most by the older children. They were very upset to hear that we could not go back again the following week but fingers crossed for next year.
The trips were all repeated for children from other complexes and in total over 50 children attended trips. It was a great success and it’s just a pity we have to wait a whole year for the next Summer Project!