WHEN an Orpington charity for autistic youngsters needed a bit of a boost, it contacted its local paper.
CASPA, which stands for Children on the Autism Spectrum Parents Association, had to shut down their CAPSA Bounce classes on a trampoline because of financial pressures.
The one trampoline they have is ageing and not equipped to deal with the needs of the 150 young people aged one to 25 from Bromley, Bexley, Lewisham and even Croydon who flock to the centre each week.
But director Helen Dyer is delighted CASPA applied for a grant available once a year from News Shopper’s parent company Gannett as the charity now has £9,055 to spend on a brand new trampoline.
Helen, 37, told News Shopper: "It’s amazing, absolutely fantastic.
"With this second trampoline we are planning to restore the CASPA Bounce project in January.
Children at Widehorizons will soon have a brand new play area in which to get their hands dirty.
"This will mean we can double the group sizes, which is brilliant, and pay for two more CASPA staff to be trained as trampolining coaches."
Children will now be able to jump all over a specially equipped piece of kit at CASPA’s base at the Link Youth Centre in Midfield Way, Orpington.
Helen said: "It’s to do with sensory processing. If the whole thing is one colour for example it is easier for the kids to deal with than if it has clashing colours.
"It’s also got smaller mesh so the holes in it aren’t quite so big - making children less fearful.
"We are also getting end boards to stop kids flying off the end and extra decking which is another important safety feature as well as new matting and special steps.
"It just means it will be a much more high quality and inclusive experience we’ll be able to offer."
CASPA aren’t the only ones to benefit from a Gannett Foundation grant as £8,554 is on its way to Eltham where Widehorizons is based.
Widehorizons has a pond at its Eltham centre.
The money will help build a new adventure play area at the charity’s Bexley Road base where schoolchildren aged two to 11 from largely urban Greenwich can learn the value of playing outside.
Director of operations Lynn Leadbetter told News Shopper: "Most London schools around here don’t have really big playgrounds and if they do it’s all concrete and tarmac.
"Because of parents’ concerns over ‘stranger danger’ and traffic a lot of children don’t actually play outside anymore so that’s where we come in.
"It’s all about creative, imaginative play - getting the younger children outside and giving them new experiences which is anything from pond dipping to going on bear hunts."
Widehorizons, which also has a centre in Horton Kirby near Dartford, already has a play area in Eltham but the new funding will help it create a play paradise for kids.
Lynn said: "We want to create a theme that goes through the adventure play area because at the moment we have got several different elements, so we are looking to link it together to make more of a trail.
"It will give the kids more opportunities to play and will really improve the whole experience for them."
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