Pre-school youngsters with extra support needs can be assured of a good start if they spend time at Leven’s Child Development Centre.
And that good start is about to get even better, after a presentation to the Victoria Road facility from Leven’s TSB.
This gives them a bit of dignity, and that’s important.Harry Blyth
Staff have made the unit their chosen charity this year and a couple of representatives dropped by last week to hand over £1200, raised by employees and customers.
The money will be spent on updating the sensory room and obtaining some new equipment, particularly for children with visual impairments.
There are very many additional support needs which some pre-school children may have – therefore, a multi-agency referral system is in place, allowing a co-ordinated approach for the youngsters and their families.
Part of that approach, for some children, may include a spell or assessment at a child development centre, of which there are four in the Kingdom.
Leven’s unit caters for around 25 youngsters a week, aged 0-3, and employs two nursing staff and two nursery nurses.
Moira Smith, nurse team leader, and her colleagues are assisted by visiting therapists and other experts to help the children towards education.
Some may be affected by premature birth, have speech and language needs, medical dependency, or possibly be on the autistic spectrum.
They undergo a range of therapy through play activity, plus ongoing assessment to make sure they have the services they need.
“Kids are always making progress here and that is always rewarding,” said Moira.
The centre is funded by NHS Fife but has a dedicated Friends of Leven Child Development Centre group, which has supported it for many years by providing toys, equipment, outings, and more.
Local support for the centre has increased over the years but, despite having existed in some form in Levenmouth for around half a century, surprisingly few people are aware of it.
Moira said, however, it did not take a deliberately low-key approach.
“This is a minority group and we do deal with a very small number of children,” she said. “They are very young and, at 0-3, they are not here for very long – people probably wouldn’t know about us unless they needed the service.”
The TSB money – more than double the target figure of £500 – was raised through events such as hampers and bake sales, while local manager May Reid tackled a 5K run. Local banker Elvedina Salmond is doing the London Triathlon in August.
“Getting children so young and being able to give them a much better start in life than they might otherwise have can only be good for them and the rest of the community,” said May.
Harry Blyth, a former Leven councillor, Justice of the Peace and health board representative, suggested the Child Development Centre when he was opening the TSB branch in Leven and staff asked him to suggest a local charity which might benefit from its fundraising efforts.
He said customers and employees had gone beyond the call of duty in raising such an impressive sum for the Victoria Road team. Often, he said, it was very impressive when places you’d been unfamiliar with, like the centre, were brought to your attention.
“It’s a very good cause – staff are working very hard and doing a lot,” he said.
“The quality of life the youngsters get with each other just gives them a bit of dignity, and that’s what is important.”