Everybody’s Talking About – Mar/Apr

Over the wall free the wall free therapeutic camps to benefit Scottish children

Free recreational activity camps for children with health challenges are to be set up in Perth and Fife with the aim of providing them with the experience of a lifetime. The residential camps are scheduled to take place in May and July. Over The Wall, the charity that organises the camps, aims to present children with the opportunity to experience the magic of camp through activities such as kayaking, fishing, climbing, swimming, dancing, taking part in challenge courses, archery, arts & crafts, talent shows, discos and much more. The charity is a member of the international SeriousFun Children’s Network, which was founded by Hollywood legend, Paul Newman. The camp locations – which will have an onsite medical environment facilitated by highly trained medical professionals, (available 24 hours a day – will offer activities that will allow the children to face challenges, overcome obstacles and achieve more than they ever imagined possible. Children with a wide variety of illnesses and diseases including cancer and leukaemia, blood disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, skin conditions – such as severe eczema, multiple severe allergies, heart conditions, kidney disease, neurological disorders and many more, can apply. CEO of the charity, Kevin Mathieson says, “We are delighted to be hosting camps in Scotland and would love to see a record number of children and families applying! Each year the amount of children experiencing Over The Wall’s camps grows, allowing us to help more children to achieve, develop, experience, learn and above all – have fun. We hope to see many children and families at the camps in Scotland.” Families interested in signing up for the residential camps – which are also available to siblings – can apply online before the closing date of April 26 at otw.org.uk. Over The Wall will also be recruiting for local volunteers for its camps in Scotland as well as nurses, doctors and paramedics. If you can help, you can register your interest by calling Tel: 02392 477 110.

Learning outdoors

Minister for Childcare and Early Years, Maree Todd, has announced that the number of hours nursery children spend outdoors is set to increase. Ms Todd made the announcement during a visit to City of Edinburgh Council’s Lauriston Castle Forest Kindergarten saying: “The significant expansion of funded early learning and childcare gives us the perfect opportunity to define the type of experience we want to offer our children during their early years. That is why we are committing more than £860,000 to increase the use of outdoor learning, to ensure it becomes a defining feature of childhood in Scotland. Outdoor learning not only improves mental wellbeing and health and fitness, it can make a huge difference to children’s confidence levels and their ability to risk assess while encouraging a lifelong love of the outdoors. By supporting our young people to go outside and play we are not only making sure their early years are as happy and healthy as possible we are also ensuring every child in Scotland gets the best possible start in life.”

The Scottish parent awards

Parent Network Scotland, the Scottish charity supporting and developing Scotland’s parents and carers, have announced that nominations are now open for the 2018 Scottish Parent Awards. Launched to recognise the excellence of parents getting involved in their local community and supporting other charities, the awards will take place at City Chambers in Glasgow on May 18 and will celebrate parents’ contribution to their families and communities. The awards, now in their second year, are designed to reflect a diverse range of carers of different ages, genders and backgrounds and their contribution to wider society. Nominations can be made in eight award categories, including Community Parent, Parenting Group, Early Years, Dads Do It, Grandparent’s Rock, Parent to Parent, Active Parent and the Scottish Parent of the Year award. Speaking about the awards, Parent Network Scotland Chief Executive Jackie Tolland said, “Parents and guardians are the most important role models in a child’s life but also in the community, and with the right support, they can create a happy and enjoyable home environment as well as a thriving society. Parents and carers work hard to make strong and resilient communities, and we believe this is something worth celebrating. With that in mind, we have developed the Scottish Parent Awards, which is an annual celebration of this contribution to Scotland.” The overall Scottish Parent of the Award will be given to the parent or carer who has made a significant impact in their community as well as in their own family. Nominations from all other categories will be eligible for this award and a judging panel will decide an overall winner. Jackie added, “If you know a great parent or carer who goes above and beyond for not only their kids but also the community, please consider nominating them for an award.” Nominations can be made by downloading an entry form from parentnetworkscotland.org.uk and submitting it by April 13.

Concerns over Facebook’s new messenger kids’ app

Research by the children’s charity Barnardo’s has revealed that the vast majority (90%) of parents have concerns about their young children using Facebook’s new Messenger Kids service and more than half (51%) would not let their child use it. The app, which is aimed at children under the age of 13, has been the subject of controversy in America where it is being trialled. Almost 100 US child health experts recently wrote to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg to raise concerns about its potential risks to children and calling for its withdrawal. Ahead of its anticipated launch in the UK, an online survey of 1,000 parents by YouGov has revealed similar anxieties. More than half (52%) expressed concern that the app’s security features would not be strict enough to protect their children while they were online and 61% said they were worried that strangers could pose as their children’s friends. Over half (51%) said they were concerned that children could use it to share inappropriate or explicit images. Questioning the need for an app aimed at such young children and the safeguards put in place by Facebook to protect youngsters, Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “It is clear that parents have concerns about Facebook Messenger Kids. While the internet provides amazing opportunities, it can also be a place of danger and too many children are groomed and abused online. We are particularly concerned that actively encouraging young children to form virtual friendships makes them more susceptible to grooming and exploitation.”

Caighlan Smith, author of Children of Icarus, has been named winner of the 2018 Scottish Teenage Book Prize. Now in its second year, the Scottish Teenage Book Prize was set up to celebrate the most popular teen books by authors in Scotland. The prize is run by Scottish Book Trust, the national charity transforming lives through reading and writing, and is supported by Creative Scotland. Caighlan Smith is a 23-year-old fantasy novelist from Newfoundland, Canada and a Saltire fellow and Alexander & Dixon scholar at the University of Glasgow, where she studied an MLitt in Fantasy. Caighlan said: “I’m truly honoured, not to mention ecstatic, that Children of Icarus has won the 2018 Scottish Teenage Book Prize. It means so much to me, because it’s an award voted on by the readers themselves. I’ve always thought of stories as conversations between the readers and the writers, so to know that the readers enjoyed that conversation, that they responded to it – what more can a writer ask for?” Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: “The Scottish Teenage Book Prize is voted for by young people all across the country, so it is wonderful that Caighlan Smith has been chosen as the winner for 2018, considering that she started her writing career as a teenager herself.” As well as voting, aspiring young filmmakers were asked to get involved with the Scottish Teenage Book Prize 2018 by creating their own book trailer for one of the shortlisted titles or entering a graphic novel to create a comic strip adaption of a scene from one of the books. Scottish Book Trust provides extensive learning resources for teachers and librarians on how to create book trailers and how to make the most of using comics in the classroom. The winner of the Book Trailer Competition is Ciara Wilkie from St Margaret’s Academy in Livingston and her trailer will be featured on the Scottish Book Trust website. Ciara will receive a Waterstones voucher, plus a £250 Waterstones voucher for her school to use for their school library.

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