A state-of-the-art facility offering amazing opportunities to young people with disabilities or development difficulties is a ‘unique, wonderful and vital’ lifeline for families in the south of the region.
That was the verdict from Natasha Asghar MS after she visited Serennu Children’s Centre in Newport recently to see first-hand some of the work that goes on there.
Serennu, which is based in Rogerstone, is managed by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, and is supported by the wonderful charity Sparkle.
Natasha met with some of Sparkle’s trustees, staff, and volunteers, including the group’s founder and chair Dr Sabine Maguire, to find out more about the work they do.
The centre provides assessment, treatment, care, information, support and leisure services for children and young people all under one roof.
Sparkle’s main aim is to provide young people with disabilities and developmental difficulties, who cannot access mainstream activities, the same opportunities as able-bodied people.
Some of the things on offer include swimming lessons, play club, fully equipped sensory rooms, a climbing wall, and a MediCinema – which is open to families for free.
Young people are also taught vital life skills such as cleaning, ironing, booking train tickets, budgeting, and making reservations which will come in handy when they live independently in the future.
Activities are also put on to help young people with agility, balance, coordination, socialising, making new friends, building confidence, self-esteem, and problem solving.
Not only does the centre offer activities for youngsters, but it also offers valuable information and support to parents as well as a bit of respite.
Dr Sabine Maguire explained that even though some 200 young people come to Serennu every week, they would love to expand services to reach more people in other parts of the region – but it all boils down to funding.
Sparkle is entirely dependent on donations and grants to run its services – which cost upwards of £700,000 a year.
Natasha also caught a glimpse of the centre’s impressive specially designed disabled playground, which includes a wheelchair swing and is open to the community, as well as its multi-use games area.
During the tour, Natasha was able to meet with some of the young people at one of the clubs and talk to them about what Sparkle, and the Serennu Centre, meant to them.
Natasha Asghar MS said:
“To say I was blown away by what Serennu Children’s Centre and Sparkle offer would be a huge understatement and it was an absolute pleasure to meet some of the young people who use the clubs and services.
“From my brief conversations with them, I got a very clear picture of just how much they cherish Sparkle and the centre.
“For a charity like Sparkle, which relies solely on donations and grants, to run so many different activities and support networks is a major achievement and must be rightfully applauded.
“To put it in no uncertain terms, Serennu and Sparkle really are unique and provide vital lifelines for people living in the southern areas of South East Wales and they are determined to expand its services to the rest of the region.
“I am very much looking forward to working with Sparkle and the centre on a range of projects and initiatives going forward, including doing all I can to help them expand in a bid to provide its services to those living in the north of the region.”