Sense Christmas Family Days mean everyone gets to feel the Christmas spirit
For families with children with complex disabilities, going to a Christmas party or visiting Santa’s grotto often just isn’t accessible.
That’s why we hold Christmas Family Days for families of children who are deafblind or multi-sensory impaired all over the UK. It’s all about creating a festive day out for families, where children can get stuck into sensory activities and Santa brings appropriate gifts.
Christmas Family Days are all about bringing families together and letting them share special festive moments just like any other family, so they can feel the joy of Christmas.
Sense Family Days happen all year round
Our Family Days aren’t just for Christmas – they’re for life!
Sense started with two parents of children who were deafblind coming together, to share knowledge and support each other. So Family Days – which happen all through the year – have always been an important part of Sense. It’s all about bringing families together.
Having a day out, when you have a child with a disability, can be so complex. You have to do so much planning, make sure the toilets are accessible, check if there are quiet spaces. Sense Family Days take away all that stress.
We hold our Family Days at Sense centres, or we take a trip to somewhere exciting like a snow sports centre or a climbing wall. We always do our research and work with venues to make sure we can host an accessible day out there.
The days usually involve lots of different activities, like baking, messy sensory play and music therapy. We’ve even had visits from animals – we had an Easter Family Day where the children got to meet and touch chicks and bunnies.
We also always make sure there’s a calm and quiet area, because events can be overwhelming. Sometimes that’s a sensory room, or an area with soft flooring, bean bags and blankets.
We’ve had Family Days where families got to experience sailing, skiing and climbing together.
Some people might say, “Why would you do climbing with children with complex disabilities?” Our answer is, “Why not?” Every other child gets to try something like that – it’s all about having fun and new sensory experiences.
It’s often the really small moments that are so meaningful. The moments of achievement, and the skills that the young people pick up. It also means so much to children to spend time with other children that are like them.
Bringing festive magic to Sense Family Days
Christmas Family Days are all about that added glitter. We provide lots of sensory things, like flashing, twinkling lights and fun textures to explore. We’re always thinking of ways that people can literally feel Christmas, whether it’s through textures of wrapping paper and tinsel, or the vibrations of Christmas music.
At last year’s Christmas Family Day in Barnet, we had a music therapist running some musical sessions. There was also an art activity with lots of sparkly gems, and an edible activity too.
This year, we’re hoping Santa comes to visit again. In the past, he’s given some small gifts out to each of the children we support.
Often the presents that children get from a typical Santa’s grotto aren’t appropriate for children with complex needs. They might be easily breakable, or have small pieces, or just not be interesting to a child with sensory impairments.
So we make sure that every child gets to have the experience of getting a gift from Santa that’s really suitable and exciting for them. It could just be something simple, like a fan that lights up, but it means so much to that child.
Bringing the whole family together
Our Christmas Family Days are free-flowing, so families can come along and spend as much time here as they’d like to. Parents can put their feet up and have a cup of tea and a mince pie while their children get stuck into the activities with support workers.
All our activities are inclusive of siblings too. They might do the activities a little faster, but that’s fine! It’s so important that the whole family gets to take part.
There are several families that have created really strong bonds and friendships from our Family Days. They share things with each other, like the number of a really good speech therapist, or a car seat that their child has grown out of.
That kind of support and togetherness is invaluable. They share experiences, ideas and information, and build friendships for life.
Your generous donations help us keep this Christmas magic going
It can be really difficult for families to find exciting days out that are accessible for their children with complex disabilities. Christmas parties can be overwhelming and inaccessible if individual children’s needs are not considered.
Our Christmas Family Days are all about making the whole family feel welcome and involved, giving them a place where they can celebrate the Christmas season all together. Everybody is considered and included.
Without donations from Sense’s incredible supporters, we wouldn’t be able to create all these wonderful festive activities, and fill Santa’s sack with sensory gifts.
Thank you for making sure that everyone gets the chance to feel the Christmas spirit!
Want to find out more about Sense Family Days?
If you’re wondering if you and your child could take part in a Sense Family Day, please get in touch with our friendly team.