The Challenge Playgroup runs on Friday mornings in St. James' Church Hall, Muswell Hill. The happy noises of children playing are like those of hundreds of playgroups around the country. But this playgroup is special.
It is run for children with additional needs; for their siblings, parents, carers and grandparents too. Parents are welcome without their child too, if they attend nursery or school on that day.In a quiet haven next door to the designated play area is a sanctuary of fresh flowers, bean bags-and absolute quiet-parents can sit in here and read a newspaper or magazine, retreat into their own thoughts or even have a massage most weeks, whilst a CRB checked volunteer plays with their child next door. The playgroup is completely free of charge.
Having a child with additional needs can make you feel isolated from the rest of the community, and here you can talk with other parents with similar issues, whilst enjoying a cup of delicious coffee and home-made cake. The toys are all new and imaginatively chosen- the dedicated team of volunteers who come each week include an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist and a child psychotherapist, by chance in their number. Nevertheless, this is an environment for play and relaxation, far removed from a clinic experience. Children's birthdays are celebrated with a home-made birthday cake and small gift. Our aim is to make children and families feel valued and loved. The Challenge group was set up by Celia Webster, who knows the feelings that having a child with additional needs can instil. She says, "People can relax here if their child has difficult or different behaviour and know that they and their child won't be judged."
The playgroup is a Christian organisation, that welcomes people of all faiths, or none, coming under the auspices of St.James' church. The playgroup runs from 10am until 11.30am every Friday during term time, and is free of charge.