On 11 February, Dame Joyce Plotnikoff DL, a researcher on children’s issues in the legal system, visited Playskill (Playskill.org) a local charity running parent and child groups at the Lemarie Centre in Watford (sessions are also provided in Hemel Hempstead). Joyce met Director Andrea Clarke MBE, a paediatric physiotherapist, Trustee Charlotte Kohnhorst, a special needs teacher, spoke to parents and observed a session.
Children may enter the programme from the age of one onward; they are assessed and objectives are set for their development. Two-hour sessions for small groups run weekly in term-time, managed by a paediatric physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and speech and language therapist. As the children move through a succession of play-based activities in each session, the professionals work with each child and parent on his or her objectives, reinforcing messages for the parent to practise with the child at home. Children are monitored throughout their time at Playskill and support is offered when they move on to school.
Joyce described her visit as ‘inspirational. It was obvious that the little ones were having a lot of fun. But perhaps even more impressive was the way parents were engaged and made to feel comfortable and supported. We are so fortunate to have this ground-breaking service which richly deserves community support.‘