Happy, determined, and curious are just some words that have been used to describe Ollie McCulloch, the first toddler to join our Sunshine Toddlers Group at Stanmore House School. Ollie has been attending the group with his mum, Becky, since Autumn 2021 and has become a very popular member of the community at Stanmore.
It came as a shock to Ollie’s family when he was born with additional needs. Becky said, “it took us some time to come to terms that life for Ollie and us was forever changed, however, we have adapted to a new normal and the team at Stanmore have been a great support.”
When Ollie attends Sunshine Toddlers he takes part in a variety of activities including sensory play and storytime, as well as arts and crafts and outdoor learning projects. A favourite activity of Ollie’s is spending time in the hydrotherapy pool, and the team have recently sourced him a specialist float to aid his stability in the water.
The activities organised for the toddlers follow the same themes as those within the school, ensuring that all who attend Stanmore, regardless of age are part of the community and enjoy the same experiences adapted to their stage of learning and ability.
As well as taking part in activities that are designed and tailored to meet his needs, Becky and the rest of Ollie’s family also benefit from the support and advice of the allied health professionals at Stanmore, this includes Speech and Language Therapy, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.
“It has been invaluable for us to have input from Allied Health, the Speech and Language Therapists have introduced us to Makaton sign language, adopting new ways of communication has been empowering for the whole family. When Ollie first attended Sunshine Toddlers he was in a spica cast from his hips to his toes, this supported him to sit upright; however, when the cast was removed he struggled to sit but the Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists were on hand to offer support and advice and now Ollie confidently sits unaided.”
The group also offers Becky the opportunity to enjoy a hot cup of tea and well-earned rest as staff are on hand to support Ollie, and he has started to make friends with some of the young people in the school. Every week Eme-Elle comes to visit Ollie, “it has been wonderful for Ollie to interact with some of the young people, giving him the opportunity to mix with his peers and the older children who he can see as role models as he grows up.
"There are no other groups like Sunshine Toddlers in our area, so without Stanmore, Ollie would miss out on the opportunity to attend playgroups like other children his age. As a family, we feel so welcome by the staff and young people at Stanmore and are proud to be part of the community there.
“The thought of attending Sunshine Toddlers for the first time was quite daunting. Due to Ollie’s disabilities, we had never attended any baby or toddler groups as without any additional support Ollie is unable to participate in mainstream activities. Any nerves I had faded away the moment we arrived at Stanmore, the staff and young people were so welcoming, and we immediately felt part of the community. Every week, Ollie and I look forward to Sunshine Toddlers, not just for the activities and interaction but also for the additional support we can both access. Sunshine Toddlers and Stanmore has been a lifeline for our family, in a time filled with so much uncertainty they are a constant source of support, advice and kindness.”