At 9am on a Monday things are strangely quiet at the Levin Showgrounds for the first day of the Bounce school holiday programme.
In the big room for Years 4 to 8 the big kids are playing cards, or pool, with blocks or drawing. In two nearby houses the younger children are also playing quietly – cards again and Tenzi.
Nicola Manville, who runs Bounce Out of School Care with husband Nigel, says a gentle start eases the transition into the day for children who may be anxious or struggling for one reason or another. But she warns it’s not going to stay quiet for long.
This year Bounce received a grant of $38,000 from the Zena Elsie Orr Memorial Trust, for extra staff to support more children with intellectual disabilities. The trust provides funding for respite care in Manawatu and Horowhenua.
Nicola says the funding allowed Bounce to employ another five staff – “for children who need a little bit more time for transitions. In the holidays, it has enabled us to take kids on trips”. She says in the past some children have had to be left behind because there wasn’t sufficient support.
At Bounce there’s less emphasis on technology and more on interactive play and building friendships. There’s a huge emphasis on participation and making sure everyone is included. A sizeable proportion of the children attending Bounce have special needs of one kind or another. “One of our biggest things is learning how to make friends, how to play, how to win and lose.”
Suzanne Downes, IHC Family-Whānau Liaison for Manawatu and Horowhenua, says the district lacks programmes for school-aged children, particularly those with intellectual disabilities. Providing holiday programmes and before-school and after-school care for these children is an ideal form of respite, allowing parents to work or to have a break.
Bounce is a Ministry of Social Development-funded OSCAR (out-of-school care and recreation) programme, which started in 2008 and promptly won a best new programme award. In 2012 it was named the outstanding OSCAR programme for the lower North Island.
There’s a waiting list for Bounce’s before-school, after-school and holiday programmes, which cater for children aged five to 13. It is open at 7am for breakfast followed by school drop-offs and then after-school pick-ups and care until 6.30pm. A fleet of nine vans does the school run, which includes three country schools outside Levin.
More than 120 children attend each day and its roll is closed for the moment. Bounce employs 16 staff and prioritises employment opportunities for young adults transitioning from school to work. Four college students work in paid positions and a number of students volunteer to gain work experience.
Photo caption: Day one at the Bounce school holiday programme and the boys are locked in an intense Tenzi competition.
This story was published in Community Moves. The magazine is posted free to all IHC members.