Last Christmas, Stewarts Garden Centres in Broomhill, Wimborne, and in Titchfield, Fareham, hosted ‘Santa’s Winter Wonderland SEN Sessions’, with the help of the Play Team at Naomi House & Jacksplace.
Terry Head, Retail & Marketing Director of Stewarts Garden Centres, approached Naomi House & Jacksplace for guidance on how to revamp the centres’ existing Winter Wonderland events, in order to provide better access to children with SEN needs. After advice from the Play and Activities team at Naomi House & Jacksplace, four sessions were hosted in the two garden centres over December, for young visitors that would benefit from a calmer visit.
In the sessions, all flashing lights and loud music was turned off, and when families booked, they were asked questions so that their visit could be gently tailored to their family member’s needs.
A family that visited one of the sessions said:
The event was calm, quiet and just brilliant. Santa and all the elves were just lovely. Instead of the meltdown afterwards, we had a well emotionally balanced little boy all afternoon, who didn’t stop talking about Santa and his reindeer.
The Stewarts team said:
We decided to host SEN sessions in our Santa’s Winter Wonderland as we had received some feedback from our customers and felt that this was something we would really like to offer them. We’ve never done it before, and we thought now was a good time to try and be more inclusive for families. The advice we got from Naomi House & Jacksplace was so helpful, we didn’t know where to start so without their help, these sessions might not have been as successful as they were. We’re so glad we launched the SEN sessions. After all, everyone deserves to have a festive time and to see Father Christmas. We hope to bring more of these sessions in for next Christmas, at all three of our centres.
Stewarts Garden Centres donated 50% of ticket proceeds to Naomi House & Jacksplace and donated a large number of bedding plants and several bags of compost to our hospices, which were used to replant the ‘living wall’ in the gardens of Jacksplace.
Claire Potterton, Play and Activities Team Leader at Naomi House & Jacksplace, said:
Stewarts have created a wonderful living wall in the garden of our hospices. We're looking forward to seeing the flowers blossom in Spring and the joy it will give to families. We're pleased that our advice helped the garden centres deliver an enjoyable and accessible family event.