Playworker Spotlight - Tia Shawyer
How did you get involved at Let's Play?
I started Let’s Play back in 2012. It was a student placement through the college as my course was Health and Social Care. My placement was for 6 months, once a week. I adored Let’s Play so much that I asked to volunteer more regularly, to gain experience. When I was due to leave, Let’s Play were recruiting and I jumped at the opportunity! I’ve been there ever since and honestly, it’s the best decision I have ever made.
What is it like working at Let's Play?
The Let’s Play community is one big family. I often refer to Let’s play as my happy place. When I am there, I feel amazing! No matter your mood, the children and staff will brighten any day. Every day is different and you learn something new each time.
Your favourite things about working at Let's Play?
It has to be the inclusivity. The way that Let’s Play are able to meet the needs of all children, raise their self-esteem and make them feel valued. Let’s Play puts the children at the centre of everything they do, it is completely child-led. The project gives children choice and provides them with a place they feel comfortable to be completely themselves, that’s pretty powerful and the reason Let’s Play holds a very special place in my heart.
Favourite memory from working at Let's Play?
Ahhh I have so many! The summers are incredible, from theme days, water fights and visits to the park its jam-packed and a lot of fun! My residential trip to Wales was a fantastic memory. Visiting the beach and seeing what an amazing time the children had, they are my favourite memories! The moments you enter a child’s world of play, the moment they let you in. You really cherish those moments, that’s when you think this is why I do this job!
How has Let's Play affected your life?
I am currently a trainee teacher and Let’s Play gave me the confidence to do this. It taught me the importance of nurturing children, building relationships and really getting to know and understand a child. These things have to come before teaching and Let’s Play embedded that in my practice.
My dissertation at University was focused on the effectiveness of intensive interaction for children with autism. After working at Let’s Play for years intensive interaction is one of my favourite things to incorporate into play frames. It is a way of communicating and engaging with children, particularly those who are non-verbal. I interviewed staff for their views and used this to inform a discussion around why it is so important and why it works so effectively. Super passionate about it and believe it is a great way to build relationships with children.
"As a family we value the respite and the peace of mind that Let's Play brings us, we would be lost without them!"
Here, at The Let's Play Project we love seeing and supporting all of our Young People - it's also incredibly important to us to support their families. Here's what one of our parents shared about Let's Play and the support we provide...
I was lucky enough to be given details of the Let's Play Project when my daughter was 6 and had just started attending the Local Special school. We were at a loss as to how to support our special needs daughter with socialising when nearly all out of school activities were for mainstream children and not inclusive.
I was a bag of nerves when I dropped her off after never leaving her with anyone before. The team were great and reassuring and made me feel comfortable. She bounded out of her first session like she had just been to Disney land! I couldn't have been happier! I was so excited when my son grew old enough that he could also experience the excitement of his first day at Let's Play.
Sessions are planned with themes but flexible to the children's needs. Sometimes my children fully embrace the theme and sometimes they want to do specific activities, there needs are always accommodated by the Play workers and session leaders and they always come out of sessions with big smiles on their faces!
The Let's Play Project gives my children a safe space to play and learn, socialising with their peers in a supportive and tolerant space. As a family we value the respite and the peace of mind that Let's Play brings us, we would be lost without them!