Thursday, 23 May 2013

New Play

Recently a new soft play center opened in Warrington, but this is soft play with a difference.
Warrington play & Sensory Center is designed and aimed exclusively at disabled children and adults. And it's wonderful!

Bee loves soft play but visiting can be stressful. Generally she's not content in the under 3's section anymore and even if she was, we often get dirty looks from other parents as she's clearly over the upper age limit, even though mobility-wise she's not too old. So we use the big play frame for the older children but due to her mobility problems she needs lifting on and off things and helping between level. She won't go on the slides or anything that needs to be climbed over. I often look at the other mums sitting with their cuppas in envy! Then there's the music, these places seem to thrive on banging dance music blasted out at full volume. Partner that with lots of running, screaming kids and you have a very loud place. Although Bee loves soft play her confidence in the environment is very low, fueled by lots of bigger kids moving around in a fast and loud manner, equipment that she can't handle by herself and a loud, overwhelming amount of background noise.

So our first visit to Warring Play & Sensory Center was a revelation.

Walking in through the door the first thing that struck me was the noise. Or lack thereof. There was just quiet: no loud music, no screaming. Just peace and calm. I paid (£2 - a bargain!) and signed us in. We made our way to a table and it became apparent that we were the only people there, perfect! Bee was practically bouncing at my side, anxious to be off and playing. I removed her shoes and let her go while I bought a tea from the counter. By the time I had purchased it and laced it with milk and sugar Bee had made it all the way to the top of the play frame and was preparing to come down the slide. BY HERSELF!

That may seem like a really small thing but for us it's huge. Colossal. Bee climbed the play frame without needing my physical support or needing my emotional support. She's never accessed a play frame without the support of an adult. I could have cried watching her come down the slide laughing. There wasn't an ounce of hesitation in her. From then there was no stopping her, she was like a child possessed. She explored the whole play frame, the sensory room, the chill out zone, all of it.
For the first time I was able to sit and drink my cup of tea in peace while Bee played independently. It didn't last long, she soon wanted my attention, but those 10 minutes were bliss. Not just for the cuppa but for the knowledge that Bee could play independently in that kind of environment.

The center is so well designed, between each level is steps for older children and adults and smaller steps for children. There's a sensory room and a chill out zone, equipment for seriously disabled children, hoists, soft music, the ball pool isn't too deep (and overwhelming)... I could go on and on about how wonderful it is. Every town needs one!

After a couple of hours Bee was starting to flag, she'd had a busy morning at nursery too and so I decided it was time to leave. We still had an hour to kill before collecting Foz from work and with all that playing we'd built up an appetite, so McDonalds called! A treat for her bravery. She chose chips and carrots sticks, that's my girl!

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