Digital Donkeys

On a chilly afternoon in January with Rompa’s Marketing Manager Kayleigh, our IT Director Graham and I found ourselves at a donkey sanctuary just outside Knottingly, near Pontefract.

Our mission: To discuss online marketing strategies and how Wonkey Donkey can improve their website and online presence. We talked about the opportunities available through Facebook, Pintrest and Instagram pointing out that the donkeys are a content generating resource in themselves.

After our meeting we had the opportunity to meet the donkeys and Jenny took us through all their backstories. All of theses stories began with heartbreaking tales of mistreatment by previous owners. There was always a happy conclusion to these tales of woe, the turning point being the donkey’s rescue by the Wonkey Donkey Sanctuary.

Find out more about Wonkey Doneky’s work

Website: http://www.wonkey-donkey.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Wonkey-Donkey

Author Spotlight – Margot Sunderland

Margot May

Margot May

Would you share a little information about your professional background with us so we have some context about the origin of the resources?

I trained to be a secondary school teacher and taught for a few years. It was the hardest years of the my life. I then went on to train as a creative arts therapist and psychotherapist and become a Senior Lecturer on a Performing Arts Degree. 

I worked for 10 years in residential care homes with troubled teenagers. I saw time and time again that without call on images and imagery, the change process is slow or doesn’t work at all. with images people engage and the change process often flows in remarkable ways.

I now run a Higher Education College entitled Institute for Arts in Therapy and Education ( academic partner of University of East London) MA in Arts Psychotherapy and MA in Integrative Child Psychotherapy and lots of Child counselling courses using the arts.

Can you give us a brief overview of the Draw On Series from your perspective?
They are to support children teenagers and adults to stand back and think about their lives and make sense of and process major life events.
It is a process designed to help them to then make good choices about what they want to do with their life now and in the future, how they want to live it who they want to be, who they want to be with and what gives their life meaning. As Socrates says, “ The unexplored life is not worth living “. Without standing back you can so easily get stuck in a rut and keep making the same mistakes d

What was the inspiration, thinking or reason that prompted their development?
Because in my work with very troubled children and teenagers, straight forward conversation about feelings just often didn’t work
Using the worksheets “ what I call the third thing in the room “ was far less shaming for them and they got really interested in the psychology of relationships with self and others which is embedded in the drawings. In this sense the drawings offer psycho-education vital facts about what it means to be human
One teenager for example had never realised he was a young carer before doing the relationship page. Another found the word “ shock” on the shock page vital to understanding his painful life as he realised he had had many shocks. He then started to make sense of them, grieve and work through so the shocks stopped derailing his life . So the work sheets can be starting points, spring boards to a really meaningful conversation that otherwise would not take place

What was your main goal when you created them?
To help ease the vital process of reviewing your life and how you want to live it, and processing painful life experiences that if left unprocessed can lead to mental and physical health problems

Were they evidence-based and tested and if so, who with and when (age group, setting etc.)
Yes with various adults ( the emotion cards especially – These adults often could not stop looking at particular cards , holding them once they had identified with them )
The worksheets lots were used with teenagers in residential care and with adults, children and teenagers in private practice over years.

Do you need to be a trained, qualified and registered clinical professional to facilitate sessions using these resources?
No. You need to be able to listen really well and to empathise and feed back that you have understand what the person is saying. .Endless questions without empathy can be dangerous and people often just shut down. And it has be totally non – judgemental listening with no lectures !! But I explain the vital dos and don’ts in the books and with the emotion cards. I would always recommend say at least a short counselling course ( e.g 30 hours) but that said, some people have natural empathy.
I really liked it that the researchers for the Government Green Paper Dec 2017 Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision found that with children/ teenagers age 2-18, to quote.

“There is evidence that appropriately-trained and supported staff such as teachers, school nurses, counsellors, and teaching assistants can achieve results comparable to those achieved by trained therapists in delivering a number of interventions addressing mild to moderate mental health problems (such as anxiety, conduct disorder, substance use disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder)”

 Who can access and make the most use of these resources? (e.g. age of end user/their clinical needs/groups/individual 1-1 sessions etc.)
Yes anyone could use the book to do a self review of issues in their life. But they are best I think for practitioners who are helping people to look at their life, work through painful experiences, making life decisions
They can be used in groups, say in PSHE lesson on relationships that hurt and relationships that heal, leading to really good group discussion

There is a new edition of “Draw On Your Emotions” already available and a new version of the “Draw On Your Relationships” coming out soon. Can you explain what new content readers can look forward to in these updated volumes please?
I wrote the first editions a long time ago now. The new editions I think are far more moving, in depth, wider range of life experiences explored. The pictures also have been all re- drawn to be far clearer and often far more emotionally engaging

We are excited about the new add-on cards. Can you share with us how and why these were developed alongside the core resource?
The cards are very powerful. Of course being full colour they can engage you a really strong way. Participants find utter relief in seeing key life experiences relationship experiences and self – states ( which so often don’t get talked about ) there in front of them. The idea is that you lay out all the cards and then simply pick up the ones that really accurately represent you, your feelings, your life, your relationships. There are cards on the market but we haven’t found any that really provide the emotional depth of the cards we have made. Hence our motivation to do so. Humans don’t have little feelings, they epxeirence powerful, intense emotional states and they need these acknowledged. The cards do this.

What is really different about these books and cards compared to other resources available?
I think so many resources on emotions are a bit patronsing – particularly those for children. We don’t just feel sad, cross, frightened and happy. Even young children have complex feelings and self states that, if they are not worked through, not made sense of, can so easily lead to mental health problems.

Will you tell us more about the images used on the cards and the artist?
Nicky is a stunning artist. She trained at The Slade ( top art school ) and can capture the very essence of particular self – states in ways that when you see them on the cards, grabs your attention as they really do speak about some of the most profound feelings we humans are capable of.

Do you have any other projects up your sleeve that we can look out for in the future?
Yes DVDs on attachment play and ways of being in relationship with children and teenagers that bring about emotional change. Its the opposite of spending hours on screen time where no emotional development takes place.

Click Here to buy The Emotion Cards

The Wonkey Donkey and Rompa

What is Wonkey Donkey I hear you ask? Well the clue is in the name – Wonkey Donkey is a donkey sanctuary and visitors centre that looks after over 21 Donkeys. What makes this Donkey Sanctuary unique is that they have a vision to make their sanctuary more accessible to disabled, elderly and autistic visitors.

Where does Rompa come in?

Rompa has been working with the Wonkey Donkey for over 2 years now. The story began when our MD visited the sanctuary with a friend. She was amazed at what was being done for the animals and was then thrilled to find out that the centre wanted to make themselves more accessible to disabled visitors. During her visit she noticed a small boy with autism at the sanctuary, he had a great time with the Donkey’s but unfortunately when his parents wanted to take a well-earned break in the café there was nothing to comfort him. This visit sparked a long term relationship between Rompa and Wonkey Donkey which followed in the sanctuary installing a sensory area and ball pool.

Accessible days out

For individuals with a disability having a day out somewhere can be a stressful ordeal and often leads to sensory overload, especially for people with hidden disabilities such as autism. Providing a space for people to calm down such as the sensory room at Wonkey Donkey is an excellent way to not only help these people and broaden your market. Autism effects 1 in 100 people in the UK which is over 700,000 in total.

Rompa are proud to work with Wonkey Donkey as they provide an inclusive family day out. For more information take a look at the Wonkey Donkey website www.wonkey-donkey.co.uk

Purple Tuesday – The UK’s Accessible Shopping Day

For people with hidden disabilities a shopping trip can be an overwhelming ordeal as loud noises, bright lights, crowds and unusual smells flood the senses. This experience can leave an autistic child (for example) feeling very agitated and unhappy, making the shopping trip impossible for both them and their parent or carer. This is one of the many reasons why the disability organisation Purple, with endorsement from the Department for Work and Pensions have introduced Purple Tuesday.

Taking place on Tuesday 13th November 2018, Purple Tuesday is the UK’s first accessible shopping day. On this day major retailers and shopping centres are expected to promote accessible shopping by making one long term commitment which makes their venue more inclusive and improves the shopping experience for disabled customers. This could mean installing a sensory room where people with hidden disabilities can go to for some quiet time after or during the shopping trip or introducing a quiet hour.

Making Shopping Inclusive is big business

  • The purple pound is worth £249 billion to the UK economy
  • Autism affects 1 in 100 That’s over 700,000 people in the UK which means that
  • Approximately 2.8m people have a relative on the Autism Spectrum.
  • More than 11 million people in the UK are considered disabled

Rompa proudly supports Purple Tuesday and similar initiatives

Rompa have worked with many businesses in the retail sector that have taken the initiative to make their venues more inclusive. For example, Meadowhall Shopping centre asked us to provide a pop-up sensory room in aid of Autism Awareness Week. The feedback from this was so positive that a permanent sensory room has now made an addition to their facilities as well as a Rompa corner kit being installed into the baby changing area.

Here at Rompa we provide a variety of products for not only shopping centres to consider for Purple Tuesday but for parents and carers alike during their shopping trip. 

Take a look at our tactile range of products: https://www.rompa.com/purple-tuesday

Chernobyl Children’s Hospital Revisited

By Richard A Street M.B.E. Chairman Chernobyl Children Life Line

We have just returned from our visit to Belarus where we give support to the families and children affected in some way by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This is a trip we undertake each year and sometimes twice per year. As I have told you there are not the facilities available in Belarus as we take so much for granted in the UK and over the years we have taken many things to support the care of the children and their recovery.

We have purchased a number of items from Rompa especially sensory lights which are not available in Belarus. We are also grateful for the items which were donated by Rompa to use to assist the children’s recovery and time, especially in the Children’s Cancer Hospital, however this year we also supplied some lights to the Social Services in Osipovichi for use with the day patients and users there. All of what we took was extremely well accepted and will benefit all that attend both places.

Rompa Donations to Chernobyl Children's Hospital

Below is a letter I received from Elena the child psychologist at the Children’s Cancer Hospital just before my visit where she is telling me about the benefits of items we have taken on earlier visits.  The letter refers particularly to Laser Sky Projector, the LED Projector and the `magic ball` is the Laser Sphere Projector. I think the letter describes the great benefits gained by the lights at the Hospital.

Thank you once again for your help and support in the work we do with the children of Belarus in giving them some hope in their lives.

Dear Richard!

I congratulate you on the coming Easter holiday! I wish that you, and all members of your family, all volunteers of the organization have everything in the best way. All of your health, joy, strength, happiness, success!

Thank you very much for helping the children of Belarus! I especially thank you for helping children with cancer. Many and many children and parents find comfort when they come to us for relaxation sessions and have the opportunity to observe the starry sky (and other pictures) on the flow of the relaxation room. It became possible thanks to the projectors transferred to our centre. Still in the procedural room of the day hospital a special love is enjoyed by the “magic ball”, shimmering with different colours, which the child can look during the procedure and be distracted, and after the procedure, children can put their hand on it and make a wish – the ball is “magic”! .. This not only raises the mood – it’s comforting!  It is interesting that many children say that wishes come true!

But have not miracles happened during the years of our friendship and cooperation? The day before yesterday I saw Nastya, yes, that girl, who was sick of myeloblastic leukaemia, who was lying in an isolated box, dreamed of drawing, but she could not, because on her right arm was connected a dropper. The very one I gave to the beautiful pencil brought by you said that it was a pencil for your left hand, specially brought by you from England – and she learned to draw with her left hand and was very happy about it (which is important, when you lie in an isolated box and other joys are not available to you! … she did not even have a TV, or a computer to watch cartoons ..) Now this is a big, beautiful girl who defeated the disease and became so strong that she could come to children’s holidays without a mask!  Please accept greetings from Nastya and her family!

If you would like more information about the work Chernobyl Children Life Line do or would like to make a donation you can contact them directly:

Richard A Street, 91 Wharf Road, Pinxton, Derbyshire NG16 6LH

Charity No. 1014274

Tel :01773 810712 / 07816 913787

email richard-street@btconnect.com

Understanding Makaton

Makaton Badge

Makaton is a language programme using signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order.

Using signs can help people who have no speech or whose speech is unclear. Using symbols can help people who have limited speech and those who cannot, or prefer not to sign. With Makaton, children and adults can communicate straight away using signs and symbols. Many people then drop the signs or symbols naturally at their own pace, as they develop speech.

Makaton Nursery Rhymes

Being able to communicate is one of the most important skills we need in life. Almost everything we do involves communication; everyday tasks such as learning at school, asking for food and drink, sorting out problems, making friends and having fun. These all rely on our ability to communicate with each other.

For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton really can help. Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them.

Makaton is extremely flexible as it can be personalised to an individual’s needs and used at a level suitable for them.

    • It can be used to:

    • share thoughts, choices and emotions
    • label real objects, pictures, photos and places
    • take part in games and songs
    • listen to, read and tell stories
    • create recipes, menus and shopping lists
    • write letters and messages
    • help people find their way around public buildings.

Makaton Make and Do Activities

Today over a million children and adults use Makaton symbols and signs. Most people start using Makaton as children then naturally stop using the signs and symbols as they no longer need them.

However, some people will need to use Makaton for their whole lives.

The Makaton Charity exists to ensure that everyone living with learning or communication difficulties has the tools and resources they need to communicate. Our nationwide network of over 1,000 licensed Makaton Tutors and Trainers across the UK deliver training to over 30,000 parents, carers and professionals each year.

Makaton National Curriculum Symbols BookOur wide range of printed and electronic resources extends from nursery rhyme DVDs to vocabulary books covering a wide range of subjects. Our vision is a world in which all people with learning or communication difficulties are able to communicate, participate and achieve their potential.

For further information visit makaton.org

Rompa Saver Packs… Saving you time and money!

Rompa’s range of saver packs have been specially selected by our product team and in some instances OT advisors. They are designed to help you to find what you need easily and with a saving.

With the end of year budgets rapidly approaching, if you are fortunate enough to have some cash left in the pot choose to invest it wisely in a Saver Pack.

From the immensely popular bubble tube corner kits to the smaller home packs there are a range of saver packs designed to help you.

Saving You Time:

Move & Groove Saver Pack

Lean on our expertise! We have selected the products for each kit with a specific application in mind. The saver packs range from more simplistic kits such as the Smells Set which has been designed to address a specific sense. To more complex such as the Sensory Circuits Saver Packs designed to provide all the equipment needed to provide a specific type of therapy. Each will save you time in selecting the products and ordering them individually.

 

Saving You Money:

Snoezelen® Bubble Tube Sensory Corner Kit

Alongside this saving of time often also comes a cash saving. Saver packs  come with a reduction in cost from under £10 to over £300 dependent on the size and scale of the saver pack.  This equates to a nice saving and provides our customers with the opportunity to access and try our products.

 

 

Rompa® quality that you can trust…

Rompa® have been providing Snoezelen® Multi-Sensory products for over 30 years. We’ve been established this long because our products have been built to last. Whilst there are seemingly similar options available on the market take a look at the reviews from our customers why you should choose Rompa®:

Colin E. Verified Buyer

Snoezelen® Bubble Tube Sensory Corner Kit
Excellent products and very useful to have everything you need in one package at a discounted price!
Find out more about our saver packs online now: www.rompa.com

Product Focus – Singing Elephant

This little guy stole the hearts of the Rompa team during product training this week. Check out the video below of it in action to see why!

Activate your first switch to make this gorgeous elephant play peek-a-boo and use a second switch to hear the song “Do Your Ears Hang Low” in a cute child’s voice.

Functions with only one switch connected, but most meaningful if two are used as this encourages listening skills, choice, co-operative play and turn-taking. Audible, visual and tactile, with ears that flap.

£39.95+VAT (switches not included)

Find Out More:

https://www.rompa.com/switch-adapted-elephant.html

 

Snoezelen Senstation – Taking the Sensory Experience to Where You Need It

Tired of taking people to the sensory room…? Ever thought of taking the room to the people who need it?!

Introducing the new Snoezelen® Senstation, the mobile unit that brings the key elements of a Snoezelen® Multi-Sensory Environment to you.

Includes Snoezelen® favourites such as:

Cost Effective

This all in one solution is a cost effective alternative to a Snoezelen® Multi-Sensory environment and is perfect for larger institutions who need to take the sensory products to various places in the building. At just £7995+VAT and without an installation fee this product is a fantastic alternative to having a Snoezelen® Multi-Sensory Environment.

360 of Snoezelen® Sensory Activity:

With products on each side the Snoezelen® Senstation provides stimulation for up to 4 people at once.

Make it your own:

Use the storage provided to personalise the experience by introducing smaller sensory products, favourite items or assessments.

Find Out More:

Visit: www.rompa.com/senstation or speak to one of our advisors on 01246 211 777.

Carddies Awards

What Are Carddies?

What are Carddies?

Raquel & Esther - Creators of Carddies

Raquel & Esther, creators of Carddies, tell their story

Carddies colouring in and play sets are Card People and animals who live in a box: you can bring them to life by colouring them in, giving them names and making up their stories. Carddies are perfect for outings and travel, as well as for play time at home. The toy is self-contained, very portable and durable.

Click Here to Buy Carddies.

Winslow kindly asked me to explain how the Carddies came about, and why they might be suitable for you and your child.

How did Carddies come about?

Carddies are loved by hundreds of children, typically aged 3 to 10, but they started off by chance. I used to make “cardboard people” for my three girls whilst on holiday. I would draw hundreds of little figures (on request), cut them out, and they would colour them in and play with them for HOURS AND DAYS, in fact over several years! They gave the Carddies names, made up stories, songs and games, and treasured them.

Carddies Creators StandingOver time, when I saw other children’s reaction to Carddies, I realised they had wider appeal… The first set I made for other children, was a Victorian family at the request of a little girl; her older brother asked me for a football set. It so happens that the boy has autism and moderate learning difficulties. Although he has poor fine motor skills, he enjoyed colouring in his Carddies and it was good for his imaginary play when he used them to play a football game.

With the involvement and hard work of my sister Esther, we made sure that the Carddies retain all the principles we care about. We wanted the Carddies to be hand drawn (by us!), top quality, Made in the UK, with strong eco credentials; packaging that was compact and sturdy, yet attractive to children so that they would keep their Carddies in a lovely little home… pencils of artist quality… Basically we wanted a toy that as parents we would be happy to buy for our own children.

What is a Carddies set?

Carddies SetEach Carddies set has:
-A theme that appeals to children (Knights, School, Football, Fairies, etc).
– 12 double-sided card figures, 12 colouring pencils, 12 plastic stands, a fold-out scene that also doubles up as a naming card.
-In the case of the Carddies Football set, a little plastic sphere so the child can play a pretend football game.

Colouring in. We made the figures double-sided to extend their colouring-in value and to make them more realistic.
Play value. The stands facilitate play (we realised that although my own children were happy to play with the little people flat, or holding them up, the stands enabled children to move them around as they would other little toy figures).
Imagination. The idea of a fold-out scene to colour in and use as a backdrop came from one of my girls, making the toy similar to a mini-theatre.

Personalising. The idea of a naming card (on the reverse of the scene) first arose from my children always wanting to give the Carddies names.

What makes Carddies special?

We have been delighted to see how the Carddies have appealed to a very wide number of children, including, for example, where attention, verbal or motor skills might be more limited, and also in the case of physical disability.

These are a few of the reactions to the Carddies:

Storytelling/Imagination.

Rebecca, who reviews toys from a disability point of view, (mainly from a child’s perspective), gave Carddies a big thumbs-up, and showed how brilliant they are for play (note the wonderful names she gave the Cavepeople!): http://critiquesandtests.weebly.com/carddies—cavemen-set.html

Educational

We have often been told that Carddies are a valuable educational tool, and could even be useful in therapy:

“These Carddies sets could easily be a great resource in the early years and primary classrooms, with the different themes allowing for a diverse array of storytelling opportunities. Adding the use of simple technology, stories can be developed, supporting language and literacy skills or used as a teaching aide so teachers create their own stories.”

https://ukedchat.com/magazine/

Fine Motor Skills/Creativity/Communication/Sharing.

“I love the idea behind Carddies and feel they would be brilliant for creating social stories for a child on the autism spectrum while encouraging creativity and improvements in fine motor skills… The fact Little man was sent a football theme box of Carddies made all the difference and he had fun actually designing the kits for the players. It was a great way to unleash some inner creativity that he has and he remained on task for a little longer than usual.”

(A Boy With Asperger’s: http://aspergersinfo.wordpress.com/?s=carddies)

If a child needs a bit of help with colouring in, or placing the figures in stands, the toy can be used with the help of an adult, or siblings/friends:

“My son sat colouring for about 15 minutes but because he has poor pencil grip he tends to tire of writing/colouring for longer periods however his 2 1/2 year old sister helped by doing some colouring too while my son kept saying thank you A you good girl!”

(Sarah’s World: http://sarahandc.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/carddies-review.html )

Personal connection/collectability value.

A reviewer early on wrote this about her boy whose “attention span with this sort of toy can be quite limited”:

“S has particularly enjoyed his Carddies. He coloured in the background really carefully and some of his characters, making sure that the colours matched on both the back and the front of their clothes. He talked about the different members of his family, and has named some of them on the back of the background, where there are pictures of each character and a space for their name.”

This from another reviewer:

“I bought these Carddies for my 4 1/2 yr old daughter who was finding it hard to settle into school. She enjoyed colouring them in and name tagging them with the names of the children in her class, she has role played the time spent at school through her eyes with them and now knows all the names of the children in her class and is beginning to settle into school. A fantastic toy.”

Relaxing and Absorbing. My friend (whose daughter has ASD) said:

“We were meeting a friend for lunch and L asked if she could take her Carddies with her. She sat yesterday and named them all and wanted to carry on… She sat the entire time in the restaurant colouring them in and placing them in the “ballet classroom”. It was great in so many ways-so quick and neat to store away when the food came, such high quality pencils and colours AND she still has loads to do in terms of colouring and playing!! I will be taking them out with me on future trips!”

L wanted me to tell you “the Carddies are brilliant… I really love them. May many others love them too!!”

On that note, we really hope that you give the Carddies a go!

Carddies are available from Winslow Resources