As many of you know, we are in the middle of an independent consultation process to help shape the future of Sunshine and Smiles. We have been given so many fantastic ideas from the initial survey, and these will be influencing our Focus Groups (https://sunshineandsmiles.org.uk/news-and-events/news/focus-groups) and of the course the longer term outcomes from the whole consultation.
While the process continues there are some things we can action and improve more quicky and it was lovely to find out that people have found our WhatsApp groups really helpful. In light of this and people’s suggestions and comments, we have decided to do a bit of a shake up of our WhatsApp groups, so that everyone has access to information and peer support that is relevant for them and their child or young person.
There are several purposes of these groups, as those who are in either our Sunbeams or our 2-6 WhatsApp groups will know. Firstly, it helps you to connect to other parents and carers of children & young people with Down Syndrome of a similar age and stage, for advice, support and friendship. Members of the Sunshine team will be part of the group to help advise and signpost too, although we often find this isn’t necessary as you beat us to it! Secondly, we will use the group to remind you of the groups and activities we have coming up for that age group. People also use the groups to organise their own get togethers.
Because all the information for your child’s age group will all be in one place, there will be no need for extra WhatApp groups per activity (apart from for Speech and Language groups), so it should make your life simpler. The groups can be quite busy however, so we understand if you do not want to join one (alternatively you can mute the WhatsApp group and check in when you want). We will still be communicating our events via the newsletter, website and social media.
The WhatsApp groups will be as follows:
-Sunbeams - Age 0-4 years
-Sunflowers - Age 3-9 years
-Smilers - Age 8-16 years
-Superstars - Age 15-19 years*
-Socialites - Age 18+*
*these are open to both young people with Down Syndrome and/or their parents and carers if appropriate.
The names and age ranges are what we are going with for now but it is a work in progress and we will change and adapt as we see how things are going. You will notice there is a large overlap between the groups. This is to give you the opportunity to transition between them at the right time for you and your child or young person (and it’s fine to be part of two groups for a time) as we are very aware how different all our children & young people are.
If you would like to be part of one of these groups, please message Tamsin on 07536 399512 with your name and the name and age of your child, along with which group you would like to join. We will set them up next week. If you are already in our Sunbeams or 2-6 groups there is no need to do anything as these will be converted into the new groups.