SURESTART in Coleraine this week launched a new service.
Julie Kane and Jackie McCrellis are the Partnerships Play Support Workers.
This week, Coleraine Times reporter, Nichola Forgrave caught up with the pair to find out what their job role entailed.
Julie explained: “ Our job is to promote the benefits of learning through play.
“We call out to families who live in a Surestart area, who have chlidren under four.
“Many people don’t understand the real benefits of play in a child.
“There are many learning aspects including developing social skills and confidence. Play also helps develop children’s language skills, hand-eye coordination, exploration and thinking.”
Jackie added: “Our job is very rewarding.
“It’s great to see how a child can progress in a matter of weeks. Our visits also supports the parent or carer with playing with their child, and to enjoy the different stages of learning and understanding.
“Something as simple as dropping a ball is a big learning curve for a child.”
Julie and Jackie use toys and books from Surestart’s library on their visits. This toy and book library can also be used by parents to borrow items for their child, and parents are welcome to just drop in to borrow toys or books.
“It’s a great resource, “ told Julie.
“If a child really likes something that we bring to their play sessions, we can leave it for a week, and let the child and the parent use it.
Julie and Jackie have plenty of experience in the field. They are both mothers themselves, but they came to their roles from very different fields.
Julie was previously a registered childminder, while Jackie was a civil servant before becoming a stay at home mum.
Jackie got involved with Surestart with her own children and made full use of the local service. Surestart helped her complete her NVQ in childcare and from that she has progressed to take on the role of a Play Support Worker.
Surestart host weekly play sessions at their drop in base at Society Street. The ‘Let’s Play’ sessions take place every Friday from 10am to 11.30, anyone in the Coleraine Sure Start Partnership supports families ante-natally and up until their child is four years old. All services are free but you must live in Ballysally, Cross Glebe, Central or Churchlands Ward or the housing estates of Millburn or Windyhall.