Saturday Fun Club
The mission of The Saturday Fun Club is to look at the ability and not the disability of children living with Hydrocephalus and/or Spina Bifida, and to enable them to live a full life, realising their own potential.
Our aim is to promote learning through play, inclusion, and tactile exploration.
The children will learn in a fun, relaxed, safe environment and will be given every chance to work on educational activities that will help them to identify positive aspects of their lives, and improve skills that they find difficult and challenging in their daily routines.
The ‘Creativity and Life skills Workshop’ was set up as a pilot scheme in Clonshaugh in 2010 by myself (Andrea Fox, SBHI member) and was intended to cater for the needs of members aged 4-12 years who have Spina Bifida and/or Hydrocephalus.
In the beginning there were a total of four members and this was certainly grew in time. After a few months I moved the club to a small portacabin at the National Resource Centre , Clondalkin, where the club now takes place every 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month.
I also found that the children couldn’t explain to their friends where they were going as the name was too complicated, so I decided to change it to the ‘Saturday Fun Club (SBHI)’. Since the Fun Club was started it has grown in terms of the number of children with Spina Bifida and/or Hydrocephalus taking part and now has a total of 34 children who are both members and siblings.
After a few months I decided to change the name to something less formal and easy for the children to say when they were asked what they did on the weekend, so I called it ‘The Saturday Fun Club’.
The aim of the club is to encourage members to build on specific areas of their lives that they find challenging. All the activities concentrate on developing the participants existing skills while learning new skills through fun-based activities such as art and crafts, cookery, computers, sports, and social outings. All of these activities help in some way to improve :
- Hand-eye co-ordination
- Self Confidence
- Fine and Gross Motor Skills
- Spatial Awareness
- Peer support
- Educational Values
- Social and Emotion Skills
Each week the children work on a theme, where they use a variety of resources such as cookery, arts, sports, and computers. By removing the element of fear from each exercise involved we are helping to encourage positive future learning experiences. All of the teaching is delivered using the show and tell method.
Learning through ‘Play’: Aistear -
Communication - Feel comfortable chatting to their peers
Well-being - The children should be safe and happy
Identify and Belonging - Children should feel loved and secure
Exploring and Thinking - the children learn to express their feelings
There are 4 main goals of Aistear that are achieved through the contexts of play. All activities carried out in club are supported by caring for each other and also taking into consideration relationships and feelings. The use of role-play gives the children an opportunity to demonstrate all that they have observed and learned about the real world.
Materials and Equipment
During each club the children are given a chance to participate in a variety of activities. All materials, especially play materials, should be clearly defined in ‘areas’ where similar materials are grouped.
Examples of areas
Home Corner - Pretend play provides the children a chance to role-play, solve problems, use their imagination, and develop creative language as well as refining social and physical skills.
Examples of house equipment are kitchen furniture and pretend cooking items.
Sand and Water Area - Some of the children in club are tactile learners and prefer to learn through touch. The use of sand and water offers the children the opportunity to explore and learn, make discoveries, and solve problems. Dry sand can be poured, sieved, raked, and scooped into containers, water can be used in the same way.
Book Area - Quiet Time
Some children when they arrive at club may be tired or have had difficulty with their shunts during the week. I have found from observation that they often like to take a book and read it themselves. Books stimulate the imagination and help children understand how others act and feel.
Table Top Area:
There should be a variety of age appropriate toys and should be grouped into 2 types:
1) Toys which are self-correcting for fine motor skills such as jigsaws, Lego etc.
2) Toys which are open ended like peg boards.
Creative Play / Construction Table
The area involves children in a process of exploration and discovery. They can perform tasks that require them to build and construct items using flash cards.
The health of our members is always important and we want to in still an attitude of life-long positivity towards physical activity. Nowadays children can spend more time playing on computers and tablets then participating in sporting activities. At the Saturday Fun Club the children are given the chance to participate in sport activities that are suitable for all ages and abilities whenever there is a chance to avail of larger space.
For any members who have physical disabilities which restrict them from activities such as football and basketball alternatives have been introduced in their place. Over the past two years club leader, Andrea Fox, has participated in the Buntus Start and Children’s Development Course. The course provided Andrea with opportunities and ideas to help support children’s physical development. All of the activities also work on some of the following areas
- Personal, social, and emotion development
- Communication, language, and literacy skills
- Creative development
- Self Confidence
From her own personal experience of not being allowed to participate in such activities at a younger age in school, Andrea feels strongly that children should be given a chance to show their skills and strengths no matter what the type of game it is. With this in mind Andrea has studied and thought up many activities based around themes such as as Pirates, Who am I, and the name game.
Use of IT in the Classroom
The Saturday Fun Club is made up of members and Siblings aged 4 – 12 years, however Andrea is a strong believer that the earlier you pick up of areas of difficulty the better chance you have of overcoming them. To date the children have been working on a wide variety of software, however there are two curriculum’s Andrea is looking to implement with the older children and these are:
1): Great Explorers MS Office Program & Max’s Toolbox - see attached Computer Course Plan.
2): Coderdojo: CoderDojo is a global movement of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people. At a Dojo, young people, between 7 and 17, learn how to code, develop websites, apps, programs, games, and explore technology in an informal and creative environment. In addition to learning to code, attendees meet like-minded people and are exposed to the possibilities of technology.
Within the CoderDojo Movement there is a focus on community, peer learning, youth mentoring, and self-led learning, with an emphasis on showing how coding is a force for change in the world.
3): From Andrea’s previous work in teaching computers with children in FutureKids, the manager that she worked for agreed to allow SBHI to use his curriculum for the children of club. The curriculum is split into different levels which requires Andrea to have a separate room to allow for the children to concentrate. The curriculum is made up of projects using the essential office packages such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and for the older children, Access. At the end of the course the children will receive a certificate.
4): Equalskills: As part of Andrea’s own business she has the contract to teach Equalskills, which is a similar to the ECDL. Completing the EqualSkills programme enables learners to demonstrate that they have a fundamental level of knowledge and skills in the following areas:
- Computer Basics,
- The World Wide Web,
- Introduction to the Desktop Email
At the end of this course the children will receive an official Equalskills Certificate