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And so I went to the Ball

Last Friday I attended a winter ball. It’s not usually my thing, but I was supporting a charity that is dear to my heart. Let’s Play Banbury transforms the lives of children with additional needs through the power of play. I have been a trustee for over a year and I am humbled and proud of the work they do.

The ball celebrated the work, as well as raised much needed funds to keep the service going. We receive some money from Oxfordshire County Council and also raise some money from the fees that parents pay to access the service, but that still leaves quite a gap in our funds.

Let’s Play supports over 150 families in the Banbury area, providing after school clubs, youth groups and summer holiday clubs. A big emphasis is on Play and that in itself very special.

So many of the children we work with are reminded of their limitations daily, either at school, in the community, or just by being excluded from everyday activity. At Let’s Play, it focuses on what they can do. All of the session workers bring the positive high energy and enthusiasm to make sure that we are positively impacting the lives of the children who come to us.

I don’t get to meet the parents very often, but the night of the ball, I spoke to a few and they said what a wonderful place Let’s Play is. Their child might be reticent about school, or having to go to other services, but when it comes to Let’s Play, they have a ready smile and can’t wait to get there. This is such a relief to parents who are often trying to balance childcare with other commitments.

Some of our children are now young adults and they tell a different story. They tell us that going to Let’s Play was the only place they could really be themselves. They were no long a label or a condition, but a person who was supported, praised and encouraged to try new things and meet new friends. These friendships have seen many into their teens and will continue to support them as they navigate the challenges of early adulthood.

This focus on the positives and building on what is possible speaks very much to my own values of bringing about positive transformation and finding a way to give back to the community. It has been an honour to be on the journey with Let’s Play so far and I look forward to many years to come. If you want to know more about their work click here: Take some life lessons from Let’s Play: • Make play central to how you work • Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t • Take time to enjoy being with others and having fun

I would love to hear your experiences and reflections. Do share them here.

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