As an active parent of child with special needs I often attend to a courses, meetings or training organised by different organisations. Last few Fridays I have attended to a course organised by Caroline Tomlinson, CEO My-Life, a charity which helps mainly people with special needs and their families. It is actually very interesting and quite innovative organisation from what I have managed to gather so far. The course is mainly directed for parents and cares of people with special needs, and aims to help us understand how to be more confident and active parent in the complicated system of SEND. the course is called Participation for Life and it’s ran over 5 consecutive Fridays with kind support of local county council. YES!!! LOCAL COUNTY COUNCIL!!! I was pretty shocked that the local authority supported this idea as normally they tend to be against the parents not on the same side!
My impression after two sessions is that Caroline, who is also a mum of a disabled son (who is adult man now) is a great, very confident story teller. Herself and her family has been through a lot. She talks a lot about making connections and plans in order to make sure our children won’t be alone and left out without help in the future. Lots of the course contents links to mindfulness, which is why I have decided to mention this course on my blog. Apart from that the course so far has been very interactive and activity-orientated. There are three aspects which I really liked and want to remember.
Very important in planning the future for our children (not only children with disabilities but, I thought, in general) is to know our children, who they are, what they like, what they are enjoying. This helps to define what they may need. Our Flower is funny, sensitive, smart. He loves trains and dinosaurs, he likes to play LEGO and watch you tube videos with trains. Our Hurricane is very energetic, very smart and very talkative. She likes cats, playing drums and making videos on her tablet. What do they need? Well… I guess it is natural to say that at this moment they need education to help them to expand on their hobbies. They need to be taught how to be fit and healthy to avoid bad habits in later life. I want them both to be independent in adult life and find loving friends and partners. May sound simple and very general. But now… How am I going to do that? I can see where this “building connections” message coming from.
Second thing I really like and strongly agree with is the Five Ways of Well-being. They are quite self-explanatory. Very useful tool of how to look after yourself, mentally and physically.
Third thing, very import to me in my mindful journey is a Gratitude Journey. This is simply a list of things we are thankful for. I used to write it every evening before I went to bed, now I got into a habit and simply just list in my head at least five things, people, situations I am thankful at that particular moment. I came across the research where participants were asked to do write Gratitude Journal every day for two weeks. At the end of this period the participants reported they feel more positive, enthusiastic and joyful. In other scientific research study, participants were asked to list five things they were grateful for once a week over 10 weeks. When compared to the control group, these participants felt more optimistic, felt better about life and in general reported being 25% happier. These participants also spent more time exercising and complained less of health problems. To summarise, the Gratitude Journal can be very powerful tool to up lift our frame of mind and deepen connections with other people. Which bring us back to the “building connections” approach Participation for Life is trying to teach. I am looking forward to the rest of the course and learn more from others.