South East Wales

Play 'lifeline' at The Hollies special school, Cardiff

Pupil enjoying rebound therapy
Image caption Rebound therapy will be one of the activities on offer at the after school club

A new after-school play scheme for children with special educational needs in Cardiff has been welcomed by parents as a "lifeline".

The club at The Hollies school in Pentwyn provides structured play for children with physical and learning disabilities.

Parent Maria Carey sad it was difficult to access schemes for her disabled son and called the scheme "amazing".

A summer play scheme is also planned.

It secured £18,000 funding for equipment and supplies and guarantees the running costs for the after school scheme for the first year.

Business manager Kay Hughes-Jones, who joined The Hollies seven years ago, has worked to get charitable status and set up the Hollies Action Group in 2007 to raise money.

"There's a huge need for a specialist structured play facility for children with special educational needs as most of the children at the school can't access mainstream play schemes," she said.

"We've consulted with the parents at the school and there's already been a 50% take-up ahead of the club opening this month".

"It'll provide much needed respite for some parents and it's great for the children as the activities that we're organising can be enjoyed by all the children at our school and their siblings".

Staff have organised a regular diary of activities for the after-school club.

Therapies include relaxation massage and rebound, which uses a trampoline and can be enjoyed by both physically challenged and autistic pupils.

Karate classes

There will also be karate classes with a special needs instructor and dance workshops run by Rubicon dance.

Image caption The school hopes to open a summer play scheme

A large part of after-school club funding has come from Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids Clubs.

Francis Daw, the childcare business development Officer for Cardiff, said: "If a school has out-of-hours childcare available it can offer respite in some cases and also provide parents with greater flexibility to work longer hours or pursue additional training and education."

Maria Carey's son Jak, 10, attends The Hollies and is looking forward to attending the after-school club.

"It's a lifeline to parents as some children, once they come home from school, they don't go back out," she said.

"The after-school club will be wonderful for him as now he knows he'll be able to do Rubicon dance every week."

"Children with special needs require specially structured play. It'll be amazing for our children. We can't access mainstream play schemes so finding out of school activities can be a nightmare."

"As a parent myself I can see how desperate other parents are for the chance for their children to access after school clubs."

Ms Hughes-Jones said her ambition was to run a summer play scheme for children when registered with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW).

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