SeeingSticks

You could say it was Victoria Jackon’s Grandfather who influenced her business. When it came to keeping her & her brother entertained on long car journeys he was a whizz at devising fun entertainment packs. At the beginning of every journey, he’d give them a pack with things to look out for – things that were happening on the route. The first one was always the Unigate Diary that was on the flyover on the way out of London – so the first thing they had to spot were the Unigate concrete cows! Once they’d spotted those, he’s give them the next envelope, or get them to open the next clue & send them on their next spotting mission. It was a welcome bit of entertainment, which got them through the journeys & kept them happy along the way.

In many ways, it’s the ethos & approach that Victoria has adopted when it comes to her business, SeeingSticks – which takes children on an art adventure. They provide art & craft packs with a difference, for 4- 11 year olds. It’s all about engaging with children and getting them to look at the world around them.

SeeingSticks on a craft tableSeeingSticks is so named as ‘SeeingSticks’ are all the implements that allow children to draw what they see – chalks, pastels, paint brushes, crayons – they are all part of our ‘Seeing Sticks’.

I once had a friend whose Dad called a pencil his ‘thinking stick’ – it’s exactly the same principle that I love for children, we see, we draw, we think, we engage.

 

As a mum of two young children, Victoria found art packs are more a case of ‘following instructions’ & staying in the lines – rather than looking out of the window, which is a huge part of creativity. Although there are huge amounts of arts & craft packs on the market for children, none seemed to offer an interactive element & so SeeingSticks was born.

SeeingSticks wedding explorer packWe recently got married & as we’re at a point in our life where every one (including ourselves) had children, we decided to invite children as well. Which is no mean feet when there are 40 children at a wedding! It was important there was something to keep the children entertained & part of the day, rather than ‘silenced in the corner with a pack of pencils’. SeeingSticks provided a crafty helping hand. Every child was given an ‘official wedding explorer pack’, with fab questions like ‘what traditions did you like’, ‘what did you wear’ & included activities like ‘when you hear music, dance a pencil over this space, make it move to the music’.

 

Not only that, it was in keeping with the day for the adults to get involved on the art adventure too – so SeeingSticks provided postcards for both grown ups & children to draw or write down their favourite memory & pop it in a jam jar at the end of the day. As both a mum & the bride, it was a real joy to see so many people interacting & jotting down memories, as a fun keepsake. By far, my favourite jam jar memory was a the tale of a little boy who listened carefully to his Dad, as he explained it was the part in the service when they would pray & that prayer is a time to wish for nice things for your family. So he dutifully held out his hands & wished for more biscuits!

 

child colouring in with SeeingSticksIt’s moments like this that SeeingSticks allows you to capture & hold. To see the world in a fun & different way & allow children to harness it.

Their graphics are all hand drawn & written, which have a lovely personal touch to them. You can’t but help think Victoria’s Grandad would be rather proud, to see the SeeingSticks world that he’s help create today.

Fit 4 Tots

Passing on a love of sport, to the next generation – Lesley from Fit 4 Tots, leeds the way.

There’s a funny shift that happens when you become a parent, suddenly statistics & headlines, stop becoming statistics & headlines & start feeling like a reality instead. There’s no longer a detachment when reading about these things, you realize they could start to have an impact on your children & the next generation, unless you do something.

Which is exactly what happened to Lesley Waldron & her business partner Sarah Dineen, when they started Fit4Tots. Concerned at hearing headlines about children being over weight & not reaching a certain level of fitness before starting school, they set about to do something. It was one thing for them to enjoy sport & fitness as adults, but how could they pass on healthy messages to their children?

And so Fit4Tots was born- exercise classes for pre schoolers and school children, delivered in a fun & enjoyable way. As personal trainers, nutritionists and mums their goal is simple – reinforce healthy habits for young children, through fitness, sport & play.

Lesley from Fit 4 Tots

Lesley from Fit 4 Tots, leeds the way with an icebreaker at Freelance Mum.

For Lesley, she was already working in public policy, but felt it was time to be out there & doing it – taking action for herself. As a mum to a 3 & 5 year old, she’s already at the forefront of mothering, so no stranger to the demands of young children. Lets face it, it can be a tricky task capturing a child’s attention – much less getting them to listen to a set of instructions and participate in an activity. So classes are devised to keep children engaged all the time, with not much standing still time.

 

I recently had a taster class from Fit4Tots, aimed at mums & their pre school children – a great way to get mums & children exercising together. We started with simple stretching exercises – trying to touch both sides of the wall with our arms out stretched as far as possible. Followed by squatting down low, then leaping up like a frog. All simple, good fun stuff – but a great way of getting mums & children exercising together.

Fit 4 Tots Icebreaker

The balloon game at September Freelance Mum – great icebreaker from Lesley!

We finished off with the balloon game – proper silly fun, getting into teams and seeing which team could win at passing the balloon up & down the their line, going over heads & through legs! Although on the face of it, it all sounds pretty simple – it’s the basics of developing the skills for sports, or the ABC – Agility, Balance & Coordination. It gets your heart racing, takes you a moment to recover & you have to listen to a set of instructions before starting out again.

 

Typically they try & give simple exercises for mums to be able to practice with their children at home, so they can keep building on the exercises – quite simply making exercise a part of every day life. For Lesley, it’s about giving children the opportunity to try as many different activities as possible – the point being about trying & trying your best at whatever you do.

Classes are taught in the community & through pre schools and nurseries – giving children the opportunity to have good fun fitness from an early age & develop those positive experiences.

My own memories of PE classes as a child aren’t fond ones. It wasn’t through lack of activity, more not finding the right exercise for me. Now as an adult exercise is my escapism, the thing that keeps me in check. I’m so pleased that Fit4Tots are making exercise more accessible and paving a positive way for the next generation.