Visiting Sparkle has a profound affect on your state of mind. Meeting such positive and driven people throughout the centre puts a spring in your step and their relentless ambition to provide the very best facilities and services is staggering.
Based just outside Newport, Sparkle is an impressive facility. It’s a stunning new building that can be seen from the main carriageway and the modern design is the same inside as it is outside. State of the art swimming pool (with hoist direct from the changing rooms), 50 seat cinema (with rear access so people can come and go in private when using wheelchair access) and a self contained apartment (where young adults learn to domestic skills in preparation for life outside of Sparkle) are just some of the facilities that are accessible to everyone.
Lisa Thomas, Activity Team Leader, kindly showed Nick and I around the centre and explained how the facilities are used in different ways by children with specific needs.
However, Sparkle is only partly funded by grants. The facility needs to fund raise directly to pay for the increase in demand for the services and care they offer. The money that has been donated from the generosity of O2e supporters in recent years has created many legacies. Perhaps the most significant is the Sensory Room where not only do children and young adults go to develop their senses, but also to find some comfort, peace and tranquillity.
The Hollistic Approach
Sparkle offers medical care to those who need it. However, there is a whole other element to Sparkle that shows care, consideration and support for the parents and siblings of a Sparkle child.
Parent groups meet frequently (Dads Bacon Sandwich Club should be rolled out nationwide!) and the Sibs Club is a group for siblings where they can talk to professionals and their peers in a structured but fun environment. We met a group of Sibs, who were under the guidance of Assistant Psychologist, Maisy Haines. The buzz in the room was fantastic to feel and the fact that there are allocated resources and attention for siblings is an example of the holistic attitude at Sparkle.
Professional support is available for parents to help them deal with the challenges they face that are often misunderstood. The culture of helping people at Sparkle really does know ends and the profound impact Sparkle has on 100’s of lives is nothing short of miraculous.
We also met with two mums; Leanne Coleman and Juliet Pelling. Both have been a visiting Sparkle for several years and the resounding message was that it is a ‘safe place’ for their families in many ways. The reality is that they feel ‘normal’ at Sparkle and know that nothing needs explaining. The importance of this can’t be underestimated.
Whizzing up and down the corridor in her Minions wheelchair was Imogen Ashwell-Lewis, who is being helped to walk unaided. Her mum, Catherine, was equally enthused by the work and support Sparkle have offered Imo
Thanks again to all the staff, children and parents for such a warm welcome.