New group in Southam for tots with extra needs

Cllr John Appleton with Brett and Maria Justice at the opening of their new nursery, Little Acorns in Southam.
Cllr John Appleton with Brett and Maria Justice at the opening of their new nursery, Little Acorns in Southam.
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A Southam couple have opened a new pre-school group for children with additional learning needs.

Maria and Brett Justice, parents to four-year-old Jesse, who has autism, set up Little Acorns to meet what they felt was an increasing demand for opportunities for children who struggle to cope in larger play group settings to socialise, play and learn.

The new group has now been officially launched by Southam councillor John Appleton, with a cake donated by baker Kay Byrne.

Little Acorns currently runs a weekly play session for under-fives and their parents or carers, where children can play and parents can chat over tea and coffee and exchange ideas and information on raising a child with extra needs. Maria, who runs the group with Early Years family worker Zoe Taylor and volunteers, uses picture cards and photos to help children become familiar with routines, such as snack time, messy play and outside play. The team also use Makaton sign language, which enhances communication skills.

The group is being supported this year with a grant from Warwickshire County Council and Manjit Kaur Evans, manager of Southam Children’s Centre, which is managed by south Warwickshire charity The Parenting Project.

Representatives from The Parenting Project joined Maria and Brett the launch, along with John Brine, headteacher St Lawrence Primary School in Napton, Little Acorns volunteers, supporters and children and their families.

Little Acorns runs its group every Thursday at the Children’s Centre at Arundel House in Coventry Street, Southam, from 1pm to 2.30pm. Parents and carers who think their child would benefit from the group can request a referral from their health professional.

To find out more, call 01926 810028 or visit parentingproject.org.uk/centres/southam

The Parenting Project is a voluntary organisation that provides support to parents in Stratford district, such as breast-feeding support, speech and language therapy, baby first aid courses, weaning workshops and a health visitor and midwife service. To find out more, visit parentingproject.org.uk