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08 March, 2018

Families Weekend in Wollongong

A young child with sight loss playing at the beach.

During the month of February, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT ran a Families Weekend in Wollongong at the Surf Leisure Resort. The weekend away accommodated six families who had children, aged four years and younger, with varying degrees of sight loss, and provided opportunities for parents to network and learn how to encourage their child’s development through play.

The weekend’s activities were kicked off down at the beach, with the families getting to know one another and exchanging resources and ideas. Guide Dogs Orientation & Mobility (O&M) Specialists were on hand to support the families and to help facilitate incidental-learning opportunities as they presented themselves, including orientation, self-advocacy, gross motor and social skills.

The children jumped at the chance to get into their swimmers and have a splash in the water. The swell was strong so most just waded up to their knees, unless a rogue wave came and drenched everyone, which caused fits of laughter.

A young child uses her cane in the water at the beach

After some lunch and much-needed rest, the parents listened to a presentation by Guide Dogs Early Childhood O&M Coordinator, Dr Bronwen Scott. Meanwhile, the children and O&M Specialists participated in some educational activities including fun in the ball pit, stepping-stones, putt-putt golf, tunnel, parachute, resonance board, and sensory jelly activities.

For the final session of the camp, parents listened to a session run by Therese Campbell, who is the Education Officer in Vision for Catholic Education. Meanwhile, the children had the opportunity to get their hands dirty making their own no-cook play-dough, explore the grounds of the resort or engage in free play.

The camp concluded late Sunday morning and the families checked out and headed home. It was great to see families connecting and exchanging details to keep in touch. Guide Dogs O&M Specialists look forward to hearing how families have implemented these newly learnt strategies to promote their child’s development.