Celebrating the Calders Children’s Zone

The Digital Sentinel has had a blog post sent into us by Sindy Santos, a parent actively involved in WithKids’ Calders Children’s Zone project based at Sighthill Primary School in Edinburgh, discussing how great the project is and advertising the upcoming 1st birthday part taking place at Sighthill Primary Learning Hub tomorrow, Thursday 7 June 2018 2.30pm – 4.30pm.

With Kids has been giving me and my family so many opportunities to learn new skills, getting to know others and participate in a diverse variety of activities and workshops indoors and outdoors. Based at the school grounds of Sighthill Primary in Edinburgh, the Learning Hub is just what the locals needed; a physical space where all the members of the family are welcome.

I have three children under the age of 7 and we are regular attendees. I have actually been involved since the very beginning. I still have memories of our first trip to North Berwick or the movie sessions 6 years ago when my eldest was only one. But recently we enjoyed the July/August programme with exciting outings and activities. Some of which took place locally within the Calders and Wester Hailes area while other trips were further away, like visiting the Modern Art Gallery and Edinburgh International Climbing Centre in Ratho to spending a day at Portobello beach. All with the aim of having fun, bonding with your family and making friends with people from your neighbourhood.

Despite having Kids in its name, With Kids has lots on offer for adults. It is something that still amuses me. I remember the first time I came into the hub almost a year ago, the space made me feel comfortable, one year on, I have the same feelings. The first thing I got involved in there was the parent’s group, for me at the right time in the right place, in the morning straight after dropping the kids at school /nursery. Best way to start the week since it’s a quality moment spending me-time, with others who are in the same boat, having a cuppa, no kids so you could actually have a proper adult conversation, and in a friendly environment. The parents club is solid, with full attendance. We are now doing an eight week course in Coaching which is about self-awareness, thinking positive and gaining confidence in any aspect of Life.

All of these led by Kate Smith, the community development worker who has a background in arts and social work, the ideal combination for these matters. She also does 1 to 1 coaching supporting individuals and families.

The programme is flexible, changing each term to fit what people want and need. We choose the activity or entertainment depending on interest. We first started with crochet from scratch and I ended up designing a family blanket. Then there were mindfulness sessions, Halloween arts and crafts, and wintery crafts such as make your own Christmas decorations and door wreath. At the end of the year parents organised and celebrated Christmas in style, with traditional food and fun games for kids.

Over the last year the learning hub was totally redecorated, a group of volunteers came to paint the exterior. And since I have a passion for interior design I didn’t hesitate in helping Kate build shelves and furnishing achieving a more pleasing environment for the people using the space. The next project is to improve the outside space, this started this week with the help of volunteers for RBS who have been building raised bed which we will be filling with flowers.

The programme is actually in constant change according to the needs and wants of the families. This is what I most like about the project, not only listening to your voice, but putting it into practice. I am also one of the members of the steering group, the ones who think, brainstorm and bring up new ideas taking into account what is needed for families with children, guiding the group in the right direction and working on solutions for the best of the community. There are some great things planned over the next few months, from installing a Little Free Library to a summer holiday programme.

If you would like to find out more about the project then come along, to the party this week, Thursday 2.30pm – 4.30pm or to one of the open drop-ins on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 2.15pm – 3.00pm over the school collection time.

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