Bringing our Branch Activities Online
Date: 23rd October 2020
Our Branches across Scotland play a vital role in supporting people with Down’s syndrome and their families, offering peer support to parents and safe places for people with Down’s syndrome to socialise and have fun. All these activities had to stop in March when lockdown started.
Thanks to the funding provided by the Scottish Government’s Wellbeing Fund we were able to provide Zoom licenses and equipment for every branch to allow them to resume some of their activities and groups online.
The chair of the Aberdeen City and Shire branch Heather Wadih and Ann Butler who is chair of the Dumfries and Galloway Branch share how the experience has been for them.
We ran several sessions over the Summer including a couple of Sign, Sing & Dance sessions, a story telling session for under 8s and weekly Clubbercise dance fitness sessions all via Zoom. The sessions offered something for all ages and our members really appreciated the chance to get involved and see everyone again.
In September we continued to run our Clubbercise sessions and opened them out to all Down’s Syndrome Scotland members via the new online platform Hub 21. We also held an online disco in September which was great fun.
We are looking forward to more online sessions coming soon.
Dumfries & Galloway– Ann Butler
In Dumfries and Galloway, we are always challenged by distance and the problem of getting our members together. This summer we have actually managed to connect with more members online than we usually manage in person.
Throughout July we had a weekly Music workshop with the charity Paragon. Paragon uses professional musicians to work with youngsters, they develop a narrative and some amazing music every session. At the subsequent branch meeting everyone agreed that the Paragon workshops had been a resounding success. We already knew that three of our members got a huge amount from these sessions but it was wonderful to see how one 26 year old’s reluctance to do anything online, another 8 year old’s difficulty in maintaining attention and a 30 year old’s extreme shyness were all completely overcome. The ability of the Paragon team to draw out the creativity from each individual and give them such enjoyment and confidence is amazing and very empowering for every one of them.
In August we met online and used zoom for some singing and signing. We also had a Disney party with optional dressing up and a play list of everyone’s favourite songs.
We have had lots of fun experimenting with different zoom sessions and, by Christmas, we will know better what works well.
Thanks to all of our branch volunteers who put in countless hours to plan and organise all the branch activities. We will continue to share updates from our other 7 branches in the coming months. You can find the contact details for each of our branch chairs here.