How our community grants are making a difference

When Footprints Conductive Education Centre at The Iona School in Sneinton wanted to put on a Christmas party for children with disabilities and their families we were very happy to support the event for the second year running with a Community Grant of £450.

We caught up with Andrea Kelly to find out more about Footprints and how the party went…

“Footprints Conductive Education Centre aims to support children with movement, mobility or genetic conditions such as cerebral palsy and Down’s Syndrome, and their families, through the principles and practice of Conductive Education, a holistic method that views the whole child.

“We teach children with disabilities practical skills that can help develop their independence and prepare them for the future – including communicating, movement and posture, and problem-solving. We also try and build ‘everyday’ activities into our sessions, so children learn things like eating, drinking and playing. Family members attend too so they can learn techniques to use at home and get tips and emotional support from the Footprints team and other families.

“The children we support have specialised needs so they can’t access mainstream events like Christmas parties in the same way as other children can. For example, many of our children are tube-fed and most can’t sit unaided, whilst the usual gifts from Santa aren’t appropriate for children with special needs.

“At Footprints, our annual Christmas party is designed to make the children feel included. We know the needs of every child who attends and can put bespoke measures in place to accommodate them. It’s a chance for all our groups to come together and celebrate Christmas with their families like everyone else. There’s food and drink and Santa gives out presents to the children that are suitable for their needs, together with chocolate selection boxes for their siblings and bespoke entertainment that includes everyone. Parents can mingle and chat while their children enjoy the fun or chill out in the sensory room.

“The families are so grateful for this chance to come as a family and just enjoy a children’s party like other parents do with their children. It’s hard to imagine what it’s like for parents of children with disabilities, always feeling like you don’t fit in and to have a totally different experience of raising your child. At Footprints, we’re supportive and try to make the parents see that their child is able to achieve lots of things, perhaps just different things to children without disabilities.

“Over 150 people came to our Christmas party on 21 December 2019. It was a wonderful event and we’re truly grateful to The Renewal Trust for making it happen by granting the money to fund it – for the second year in a row.

“The event makes such as difference to the lives of our families. When you have a child with additional needs, getting an invite to an event where there are other parents in the same position is quite rare. No one feels they have to explain themselves or their child, no one feels out of place or that their child doesn’t belong. At our party everyone can just be themselves and relax as a family.

“As always, we had an enthusiastic response from families with feedback including ‘Another lovely party. Great food, kind staff and excellent entertainment’ and ‘We’ve had a fantastic day, we loved Bebop!”

Did you know?

Community Grants are small awards of up to £500, available to local community groups and organisations in St Ann’s, Sneinton and Mapperley. They’re available for a huge range of projects from ongoing services such as community language classes and sports activities, to one-off events like family fun days and community celebrations. Groups can apply for a Community Grant every 12 months.

Find out more about our Community Grants