Additional Needs

 

Additional Needs children at Lighthouse

 

The Additional Needs provision at Lighthouse was set up to give children with additional needs the opportunity to experience, alongside their peers, all the fun and spirituality that Lighthouse offers.

We aim to be inclusive, but have to work within limitations. We are all volunteers and we cannot, therefore, guarantee the specific SEN experience required to support some children. As a result, we are often unable to confirm a place for some children until we are sure that we can meet their needs and this process takes some time. Many people are surprised by the size and scale of Lighthouse. Each day we welcome up to 1000 children onto the site, with approximately 500 helpers. The children take part in a variety of activities, ranging from sport, to craft and Big Top Sessions (when everyone meets for singing, dancing and fun).

Despite being thoroughly enjoyable for most children, it is noisy, crowded and tiring. We aim for all children to participate in the activities on offer, although we recognise that some situations can be too challenging or uncomfortable for children with additional needs. Where appropriate, we will try to offer extra adult support to enable the child to participate. Lighthouse Thame takes place on a vast site with a large number of people moving around and a lot of noise. Again, where necessary, we provide support and the option of a short time out in our additional needs tent for those that find this too much, but they are then encouraged to re-join their peer group as soon as possible. However, some children still find this too difficult and can struggle to participate at all.

Our experience has lead us to the conclusion that for children with additional needs, five full days on site can be overwhelming and often, by the third day, they need a break. It can be detrimental to their positive experience of Lighthouse if they attend for more than they can manage. As a result, we may limit the number of days offered to children with additional needs.

We do not wish to discourage parents of children with additional needs from registering their child, but we do feel it is important to give a realistic picture of what Lighthouse can be like. We want all children to have a positive experience at Lighthouse and we do not like to have a child collected who is not coping or is too uncomfortable with the environment to participate.

We ask that parents take all the above into consideration when thinking of registering their child for Lighthouse. It is essential to provide as much information as possible regarding their child’s needs so that we can plan our support provision accordingly.