Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Chillin' at the cinema



We were back at the Showcase Cinema again this year. This time to see Smallfoot which is about Migo who is a friendly Yeti whose world gets turned upside down when he discovers something that he didn't know existed -- a human. He soon faces banishment from his snowy home when the rest of the villagers refuse to believe his fantastic tale. Hoping to prove them wrong, Migo embarks on an epic journey to find the mysterious creature that can put him back in good graces with his simple community. It was certainly exciting and the kids, as always, got involved in the movie. Granted - this may have been them joining in the songs or dancing in the aisles or jumping up and down whilst watching.

What I love about this event is the freedom that it allows. This event has become an annual tradition as the nasty weather starts to join us and its one that will hopefully continue as it is just so important that our families get to join in and do activities that one would normally consider an everyday activity. Its just so often the case that families feel that they are unable to go as they may be considered too disruptive. Well - in our cinema viewings - we encourage it!  We want the children to enjoy the movie however they want to enjoy it! And hopefully parents can relax knowing that every single person in that cinema understands and is in fact in the same situation. 

It does also give the freedom to take younger ones as well so the whole family gets to enjoy it. I, for example, took my toddler and I would NEVER normally do that. Mainly because for the last 40 minutes of the showing we went on a walk around and up and down the stairs. I got a good work out however and hopefully managed to work off some of the popcorn I had just been eating! 

We think next year that we'll need to work on the booking in process. The queue for signing in and collecting the snacks was a little bit too long. I'll be thinking on this and ways to improve the signing in process to make it a little bit more streamlined. 

But as always - a massive thank you to everyone at The Showcase for being so accommodating. See you next November! 

"Thank you for a lovely time at small foot Little Hiccup
s! Xx"


"Fun had by all at cinema to see Smallfoot. Aiden loved having his own chair and watching Migo fly through the sky! THANKYOU LITTLE HICCUPS for a lovely morning. Xxx"

"Thanks so much little hiccups we had a brilliant morning at the cinema xx"

"Thankyou little hiccups for a wonderful outing to the cinema xxxxxx"

"Thank you for organising, we all really enjoyed it xx"

" it was a fab event, thank you x"

x

What is Hydrotherapy and why Little Hiccups provides it.


SW logo                  FullSizeRender


Little Hiccups provides Hydrotherapy sessions in collusion with Sportsworks and PT Kids. This year we were fortunate enough to secure a Grant from Big Lottery Fund which enabled us to provide 3 sets of 7 weeks to 12 families each time. That equals to 36 families that received Hydrotherapy through Little Hiccups this year.


A hydrotherapy pool is different to a typical swimming pool as the water is warmer (usually ranging between 33-36°C). And the pool we use at Armley Leisure Centre is fully accessible with Changing Places and hoists to allow all the children to access the pool. 

Its hard to explain why this is just so beneficial to the families involved. I could tell you that Hydrotherapy is ridiculously expensive (I've done a rough working out of our sessions and it works out about £90 for one 30 minute session for one child). And the majority of families are just unable to afford those kinds of costs. 

I could also tell you that Hydrotherapy is a good bonding session between parent and child. The children are receiving physiotherapy from trained physios in the water to help with their conditions but its FUN. The warmth of the water allows the children's muscles to relax and it eases the pain in their joints. They are exercising without knowing they are exercising. 

But above all we find it necessary. The feedback we get from families proves just how essential it is:
"I think Liam thought he was having another birthday- swimming whilst his pool buddies sang Disney songs to him- very happy boy! Maybe he will even sleep tonight!!!"


"I just wanted to send you a quick message to say thank you for having Rose on the hydrotherapy sessions, she really enjoyed it and she was started to show slight movement returning during and after the sessions. Hydrotherapy has been fantastic on helping Rose recover, so thank you again for helping us."


"Harry loved it and moved and kicked more than he ever has so that was great thank you"

"Just  a quick email to say that my kids absolutely loved the hydrotherapy! The help there was great and really understanding so a big thanks for organising - my kids were asking to go back the next day."

I also have so many families contacting me in regards to joining us on our Hydrotherapy sessions and we really do try too oblige them all.

CASE STUDY 1
Liam has low muscle tone and neuropathy which mean his legs do not work well and he cannot stand or walk unaided. He spends much of his time either in his wheelchair or kneeling on the ground. He misses the opportunities of other 8 year old children to exercise and run around. His legs need frequent stretching to help them maintain a small amount of functionality - which means he can weight bear and help with transfers which are essential to maintaining a bit of independence for Liam.

Liam is registered blind which means that he also loves the water and the sensory experiences he gets from being in a pool - touch and sounds particularly. 

There are many barriers to Liam accessing a pool as a 'normal' child. Liam requires hoisting which many facilities do not have. The specialised hydro pools are very expensive to access regularly and even then they do not include extra support once Liam is in the pool. He is very sensitive to the noise of other children - so a busy communal pool on a weekend is no good and he also needs two people to help in the water (when exiting the water particularly) and as he has siblings, it is not possible for his parents to do this alone. 

Liam finds new environments difficult to deal with. So the first time he went along to Hydrotherapy he was slightly cautious at first as his language is very limited so it is difficult to explain exactly what is going on.  He was anxious about getting in the pool, and nervous about the other people he could hear. This was helped by the reassuring welcome of the trained physios there, who were ready and expecting him. 

Over the 7 weeks Liam became not just confident but positively  eager to get to swimming. He started to remember some of the people's names who were in the pool with him, and ask for them as we approached the changing area.  He really  really enjoyed his sessions. They did his stretches in the water, great for Liam .They played games with him and included the other children which was a lovely opportunity to get him to 'socialise' - which he doesn't often get. By the end of the sessions he was 'standing up'  - weight bearing in the shallower end and 'jumping'  - something I've never seen him do before.  His confidence with the physios also meant he went from being unwilling to be on his front swimming, to choosing to swim on his front during his sessions.  It was great exercise for Liam, who's options for physical activity are very limited. 

CASE STUDY 2

Alexander is 17 months and has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. He is moderately affected and needs full support with sitting and he is non-mobile and non-verbal at present.

The hydrotherapy at Armley allowed him to engage in a fun and stimulating physical activity as well as offering him an opportunity to exercise and build up his core strength.

The accessible changing areas meant he could be easily changed and dried in a safe and secure manner. The accessible changing rooms also helped his mum as she didn’t have to bend and strain her back or worry that the changing bench was too hard for his head if he thrashed around.

Alexander was a little bit apprehensive at the start of the first session, but the warmth of the Hydrotherapy room meant he didn’t get too cold when undressing and changing and the warmth of the pool helped him to relax. The trained physios and volunteers were able to engage Alexander in a range of positions and moves that allowed him to safely stretch and relax his limbs with high tone and exercise and build up strength in his core.

The equipment available in the hydro room such as the float station net of balls and foam frog mats were appealing and encouraged Jacob to work that bit harder as they made the activity fun and stimulating. These extra pieces of equipment along with the room hire and access to qualified Physios are expensive and his parents would struggle to pay for the sessions if they were self-funded.

The staff were friendly and knew how to support Alexander in the pool which made him feel safe and allowed him to concentrate on the therapy exercises. As the sessions progressed Alexander became increasingly confident in sitting on the float station and moving around the pool with the physio on the foam frog!

CASE STUDY 3
Just before we started hydrotherapy we found out that Anna had an unsafe swallow of liquids, with silent aspiration. The hydrotherapy sessions showed us how to hold Annasafely in the water so she keeps her face dry and exercises to help her to use her legs in the water and ease leg stiffness. Since the hydrotherapy sessions we have been able to take Annaswimming ourselves and keep her safe in the water. Anna is looking forward to continuing hydrotherapy sessions once she starts at specialist school in September.

*All names of children have been changed.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Sailing Away



So for a little while now, one of our Trustees has been trying to get me to book a Little Hiccups trip on canal boats run by The Safe Anchor Trust in Mirfield. He had been to one of their Open Days and was blown away by what he witnessed. This year we finally organised it and are very glad we did! 

After a lot of emails back and forth, the very patient volunteers at The Safe Anchor Trust managed to answer all my questions (sea monsters were queried at one point but I was reassured that there were none in the canals). We finalised our trip for Oct 28th and I opened up bookings.

There was a smallish issue on the week of the trip in that one of the boats ended up with a broken part and from two trips with three boats we had to change to three trips with two boats. One of these boats was still able to take wheelchairs so we were good to go!

The boat trip was certainly on a beautiful part of the River Calder and we managed to take many scenic pictures and spotted a variety of wildlife on the river. It was peaceful and relaxing but never boring. The roughly two hour trip managed to hold the attention of adults and children alike and both were also allowed sit indoors or outdoors or to even have a go at steering. My boy in particular was thrilled to be able to steer a boat and even managed to manoeuvre it through a bridge without crashing into the sides. Something I was quite pleased about!

The impressive thing about the canal boats at The Safe Anchor Trust is their accessibility and this is why we were able to join them for the day. They had a lift to allow wheelchairs and pushchairs into the boat and the toilets were fully wheelchair accessible. The lift also gave the children access to steer the boat as well if they wanted to. No child was left behind!

The canal boats also went through a lock which allowed the families to see how one works close up and personal and for the more mobile there was also the opportunity to have a go opening and closing the lock gates too. Again, my children jumped at this possibility and they absolutely loved pushing the large wooden gates open and closed and watching the boat rise to the level of the next bit of canal.

The weather was a bit hit and miss on the day (but considering it was late October we were very lucky still). The little group I was on with during the first trip had a crisp but sunny October morning. The next group I believe had just rain! From the feedback and the pictures however, it didn't seem to dampen any spirits and it seemed to be a trip that was much loved. Sometimes, its just nice to slow down once in a while it seems and enjoy the moment rather than seeking the thrills.

A massive thank you to all the volunteers from Little Hiccups to the Safe Anchor Trust who did this free of charge. Little Hiccups donated all the ticket fees straight to them to help fund their charity and I've plans for a return trip in the summer one year. Picnic by the canal anybody?

"Once again, thanks to Little Hiccups we’ve got Oliver to do something which we wouldn’t have dared attempt on our own. So impressed he actually got on the boat .. thank you""What a fantastic experience today was. Thanks to Little Hiccups for making this possible."
"A great afternoon spent on the canal and River Calder. Thanks to Little Hiccups."


"What a lovely fun afternoon on the canal. Thanks again Little Hiccups for another fab trip!"


"Thank you once again Little Hiccups for such a wonderful trip. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon, despite the rain!"
"The rain didn't stop play what a trip thank you"
"Thank you Little Hiccups brilliant day on the boat xxx"
"Thank you so much. We loved our adventure on the canal boats."

"Before we embarked onto the Lady Rhodes, Nathan got quite distressed because he had to wear a life jacket, but on the narrow boat itself, he "loved it", and even had a little go at steering, and mum even had a go, and didn't even crash the boat lol! "So all good!""



Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Strike!




We'd had a few requests for a bowling event so I thought we'd give it a go. It was never going to be an easy event to organise as bowling is by its very nature, a noisy sport! I approached a few bowling alleys in Leeds but wasn't having much luck. They promised to be very busy and the alleys concerned were hard to contact and wouldn't turn down the music for our session. I put word out to the families to ask their opinion and got a very help suggestion from one...to go speak to Barnsley Bowl. I promptly did so and found a completely different attitude. They were helpful, responsive and willing to make changes to suit our group. Nothing was too much trouble for them. I very quickly booked a date with them and spread the word.

We arrived on the day and I had several staff helping with the changes that occurred as we'd had a couple of last minute swaps. Every family had 2 games and we had the usual Hiccups fun and chaos that comes from a Hiccups event. What was important though was that families were relaxed and enjoying family time. The children coped incredibly well with the noise of the pins and bowling bowls and it was lovely to see so many involved. Wheelchairs, for example weren't a problem either. And for those that struggled to lift the bowling balls there were bowling ramps to help them. Everyone could have a go if they wanted to!

We'd also ordered a buffet and there was more than enough to feed everyone! There was so much left at the end that several of us took a pack up for our lunches the next day AND we left some to put out on the counter for the other visitors and staff if they wanted it. We'd also asked if they were able to provide a vegan option and they really outdid themselves. The amount and quality of vegan food they supplied was incredibly decision and certainly better than your custom salad! 

A lot of games stopped for the food but what was lovely is that they were able to pick them back up again after if the family wanted. Some, like mine, skipped back and forth between food and bowling. Others rejoined the game as a family after. There was no pressure and no rushing. I certainly think that we'll be back at Barnsley Bowl again. Thank you to everyone that works there that helped us that day.

"Thank you Little Hiccups for bowling Nile loved it. Even though the kids won! High 5 Jack and Nile x"

"Thank you for a brilliant day out yesterday. Yusuf said it’s the best day his ever had. All the kids said it was The best a fantastic day. Buffet was great also. Kids loved the cheese cakes. X"



Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The day Little Hiccups goes classy (well...as close as we can!)

Last year Little Hiccups envisioned a slightly more sophisticated Family Fun Day for the children as they are unable to attend the Hiccups Event of the Year - our Fundraising Ball (November 24th this year - you can book online here: http://www.littlehiccups.co.uk/charityball/). Our wondering thoughts led us to an Afternoon Tea Party (because who can turn down cake) and when Iveridge Hall offered us their gardens to use for a Hiccups event we jumped at the opportunity to put our plans into action. Last year was a huge success and we had wonderful food in wonderful surroundings. We had many requests to repeat it this year and were happy to oblige.

The owners of Iveridge Hall, Graham and Linda, were generous enough to lend us their gardens and facilities again which were very gratefully received. We also thought the food was so delicious last year that we approached the same caterers. Since last August, they have moved from their Caravan, Rosie, that travelled to events to their very own cafe - Hart Coffee House and Deli in Boston Spa. They were still happy to help us out though and the food and crockery was all thanks to them. The cakes were particularly beautiful with masses of creamy icing on top of delicious, moist sponge. (My mouth is actually watering thinking about them again! If you are ever in Boston Spa, I recommend paying them a visit and sampling one (or two!) of the cakes! There was so much food left over unfortunately that we need to remember to ask people to bring some tupperwear with them next year so that they can take some home with them. This year, our Chairperson Sarah, nipped into the Leeds General Infirmary Children's Ward and St Georges Crypt after the event and made sure that no food went to waste.

As sophisticated as Afternoon Tea is, we decided that the children required entertainment and possibly to burn off all the sugar that we had just supplied them with. With this in mind we hired a bouncy castle and a Soft Play area complete with bouncy unicorns (which my toddler was particularly fond of!) from Bounce and Wobble. Got to say - not sure if it burnt energy off or just gave them boundless more but they certainly seemed to enjoy themselves.

This year it was also through that it would be nice to have a calmer sensory corner for those either less mobile or that wanted to escape the noise and inevitable giddiness that comes with a bouncy castle. After some home crafting and raiding of the Hiccups storage unit, I think the Trustees managed to put together quite a nice and magical little area of the garden to escape into. 

And of course, no 'posh' event is complete without horses so of course we had to see if we could hire some. We were lucky enough to be able to hire KL Therapy Ponies last minute and they brought with them two of the most adorable miniature horses that I, and everyone else, fell in love with straight away. They were the most docile creatures and loved sampling the grass at Iveridge Hall. The children enjoyed stroking, brushing, plaiting manes and holding the reins. I think the ponies quite enjoyed all the attention too!

All in all, it was a lovely day, with lovely company and great food and entertainment. Even the weather behaved and it was certainly hit and miss leading up to the event. I'd been watching the forecast all week and it was a complete tease with showers changing to rain changing to storms, back to clear then showers, etc. In the end it behaved itself. We had a very light drizzle but then it was cloudy and just warm enough. Which in my mind is the perfect summer day but then I am ginger and hide from any sun so some may disagree with me on this!

Thank you to everyone that came and helped make it such a special day.

"Thank you once again Little Hiccups for such a lovely afternoon tea, with great food, great company and a great place to visit! It was also lovely to meet some new faces as well, already looking forward to the next outing xxx"

"Thanks for the lovely tea party, Jacob loved the sensory garden as you can see x"

"Thank you for another fabulous afternoon tea xx"
Links
x

Monday, 2 July 2018

Little Hiccups 9th Birthday Celebrations!





It's Little Hiccups 9th Birthday this year and we invited the families to help us celebrate! We like a good party so had a lot planned. 

Meet a Creature paid us a visit and brought with them a variety of animals. We had a very friendly rabbit called Flora that a number of the children fell in love with. She was a particular lovely rabbit that enjoyed hopping around the room on her lead and getting lots of cuddles from her visitors. Then there were the less cuddly animals but not less delightful. There were snakes, a bearded dragon, a tortoise, a tarantula (which enjoyed sitting on heads) among others. We had the animals on a stand in a slightly separate room so that the animals were not bothered by the noise of the party and also so the children were in a quieter room when meeting the animals.

We also invited back our regular Susie Sparkles to entertain the children as she just does it SO well! Susie has been our regular entertainment at our parties for the last few years and she knows our kids well. Her outfit for this event certainly blew us all away as she came in a gorgeous dress with enormous wings like a butterfly. It was certainly a sight to behold. Susie did her usual fantastic job entertaining all the children with games and songs and there were a lot of very tired but happy children at the end of the party - always a good result!

As if that wasn't enough, Nicola from Face Painting by Cheeky Faces was available to paint faces and arms to requests. I saw unicorns, flowers, sunsets, action heroes, bandits. Our children do have a wonderful range of imaginations! And Nicola managed to beautifully fulfill them all!

As always, we were in the glamorous Royal Armories setting. And the staff and the way the team gels there never ceases to impress me. It honestly is like clockwork. I love events there as its just so organised! I have very little to do to prepare for the event. Just how I like it! The food went down very well. Especially the cake!


Alison from Celebration Balloons of Rothwell was also on hand to decorate the room with the finishing touches. The children loved the animal themed balloons with caterpillar, bee and butterfly balloons on top of balloon towers.

I think the parties are getting harder to top though bring on our 10th Anniversary Party next year. I have a few ideas...

"Happy Birthday Little Hiccups, thanks for a great party x"

"It was really nice to see Emily interact with the animals. Especially the rabbit!"

"Thanks for the great party!!"

"Enjoyed meeting the animals - Emily thought the rabbit was a teddy bear and was very reluctant to let go!"

"Thank you again Little Hiccups for a lovely morning! Took us a bit to get through the door when we got there due to "feeling too shy" but once in he had a fab time!!"

"He had so much fun xx"

"Happy 9th birthday little hiccups thankyou for todays party xxx"

"Happy birthday. We had a blast. Thank you xx"

"Thanks for a lovely party!!! Harvey had a ball. Touched a tarantula!! And played on stage . I was so proud of him. Lovely to see everyone. Can't wait for the next event xx"

Websites:
https://royalarmouries.org/venue/royal-armouries-museum/
http://www.meetacreature.co.uk
http://www.susie-sparkles.co.uk
http://www.nicolasfacepaint.co.uk/ 
https://www.rothwellballoons.co.uk/ 

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Taking time out for a play

In June, Little Hiccups visited Kidzone. a soft play area in Garforth which provides kids the chance to play, learn, explore and party in a safe and stimulating environment. 
Working hard

Kidzone has recently swapped hands and the new owners Carl & Claire Barron are incredibly welcoming. They really couldn't do enough for Little Hiccups and paid extra attention to the food requirements. We had gluten free and lactose/egg/nut free options amongst others and anything that could been deemed as an allergic risk was clearly highlighted. The food was particularly enjoyed by children and adults. Children were treated to party food of sandwiches, pizza, crisps, fruit, buns and ice cream. Parents were treated to panini and chips. There was certainly plenty to go around. 

The new sensory room

Earlier that week, Carl and Claire had managed to open their brand new Sensory Room and this was particularly enjoyed by several of the children. There was different textures, sequin cushions (which I took a fondness to!) bubble tubes and fibre optics. The room was calming and captivating with a space theme and star light adding to the atmosphere. 


Plotting something...
We did unfortunately book our event on the same days as the AJ Bell World Triathalon which caused several families to be unable to attend due to road closures. I'm lamenting the fact that there is no one website that has planned road closures on. Leeds City Council - take note! I do think that Little Hiccups will become regulars here however so next time we won't book it on the same day as a major event (hopefully!) 

Kid Zone do also offer an dedicated session for children with additional needs once a month. It is an event where families can relax and play without prejudice. We will be closed to the general public for this event. There will be no music playing during this session.  Admission is £2 for all children (including siblings) and 10% off all meals. 

http://www.kidzoneplaycentre.co.uk
"1st time in forever we went to a soft play and it didn't end in disaster my boys had an awesome time xx thank you"

"Our first visit to a little hiccups Robbie enjoyed himself and really likes the sensory room here. Looking forward to coming to another afternoon out x"

"Thanks for todays session ive never been to a relaxed and fun play gym experience before always ended in tears but he had a great time and was very proud of himself telling me he made a friend too"

"Thanks for a lovely afternoon. Harvey had a brilliant time. Very relaxed and meant a relaxed mummy as well ! Hope to see u soon. Xx"

"Thankyou little hiccups for a really relaxed soft play session loved the sensory room n food was lovely xxx"

""Thank you" Little Hiccups for such a great event.  And for the lovely array of food, you never seem to disappoint! 😀 Kid Zone, "thank you" very much for having us all, and putting the spread on. I think that children as well as adults had a good time! xx"

"Thank you so much for the soft play session this afternoon and the fab food and drinks! We had a lovely time xx"