Samuel’s Adventure at Springboard!
What is Springboard in Horsham? – I hear you ask, well for Samuel it is a place filled with fun, excitement, laughter and most importantly an understanding and sense of belonging.
For anyone living in Horsham or in the surrounding villages/towns in West Sussex Springboard is a large Victorian house located in the centre of Horsham which has a dedicated team of staff and volunteers of all ages providing a multitude of resources, services and clubs available to special needs children and their families/carers of all ages.
I heard about this place through a friend of mine whose daughter already goes there, but the ironic thing about this was that when Samuel and Grace were only babies I used to go along during the day and just sit in their Sensory Room because the lights and bubble tubes used to relax both of them – at that stage I of course did not know what was to develop with Samuel.
For Samuel having to go into a building he has never gone into before or to meet new faces whatever the age is a very anxious moment and usually like all these fun filled places for children these days they are normally loud, hectic, busy environments.
I took Samuel just for a visit – or so I thought – on our first Saturday so that we could both explore the house and garden, we were met by a friendly face in reception who signed us in and immediately a young chap with a grin introduced himself to Samuel and explained he was going to be Sam’s buddy for the morning. During school term time once a month children can go along on pre planned visits on Saturdays from 10 am til 12.30 pm and can be left with their assigned buddy within a safe secure caring environment. During school holiday times they run a holiday club for various age groups.
Within a second of us going through the door Samuel was off dashing here and there with the buddy close behind – the beauty about this place is that Samuel is in no danger whatsoever and he can expore as much or as little as he wants with his own buddy. This also meant that I could sit quietly and fill out my membership forms!!
What’s there to do?
Well where do I start!!!!! There is a “Toy Library” for the children and parents/carers to use – Samuel on the first morning dressed up as a policeman, nurse, cowboy and played with prams, trolleys and much much more! He loved it…
Also in the house you have a large soft play room which has tunnels and mats that make music when you stand on them plus an enormous ball pool – this room is the best one for Samuel so that he can use up all his excess energy ducking and diving.
The quiet Sensory Room is one which I could stay in for hours!! The moment Samuel enters this amazing space he is like a mouse quietly moving around, touching and smelling all the wonderful smells and textures. It is a room full of lights, bubbles, a great hammock for chilling out on and another large ball pool for floating in.
A garden every child would love to have – it is a large walled garden with stacks of outdoor play things – bikes, climbing bits, soft play, wendy house, swings and a great path area which is made up like a road traffic light system for the children to pretend driving around! Even I was a little envious….
Go and have a coffee!
By the time I had filled out all of my forms regarding Samuel and his needs he was so absorbed with his surroundings and content the helpers there said “Go and do some shopping in town, you have another hour yet.” I closed the door and walked through the park aiming for the town but suddenly felt quite lost – its a funny thing to explain how I felt – I did not know whether to laugh or cry – for the first time ever I felt a sense of relief that I had found a safe, loving, understanding place who could read Samuel like a book, they did not mind if he did his tics or made loud noises, they accepted Samuel for who he is.
Did I get into town I hear you ask? Yes – but the weird thing was I walked around and around and spent too long debating what I did need to get, so much so that the hour just went with a blink of the eye!
Did he enjoy it I thought to myself – he did not need to speak, his face said it all – He loved every minute of it!!!!! He came out with a large bag of cakes he had made and did not stop talking about Springboard all the way home..
Samuel has since been back quite a few times now on Saturdays and he has even been along to the holiday club for his age group. Springboard is a lifeline for parents like myself – it also means that I can spend some precious time with my daughter doing girlie things which is often missed.
For Samuel “Springboard is the best place in the world,” “why can’t the world be like Springboard mummy, nobody stares or laughs, everyone there is normal just like me.”