Safe Spaces in Public Places

Ability Links Maitland NSW developed a space that can be deployed at events, and indeed any public location, to give people a safe space in which to rest and regain their composure. 

This space also offers attendees to access other tools such as connecting to a hearing loop, wheel-chair use and sensory devices. 

This support is available free of charge to attendees, but items may vary from event to event.

View the video and/or read the full transcript here.

Video transcript follows: 

So, my two children are very different. My eldest, it would just be more of a nagging situation of just, I want what I want kind of thing. And it's constant.

Whereas my youngest son it will turn into the yelling and the hitting... what you'd see a two-year-old toddler do is what my nine-year-old will do. So they are very different behaviours, but they are both stressful, just in very different ways. Both are wearing and both are stressful.

Attending an event, there is a lot that goes through my mind. It's putting the idea in their head first and going through what the plan is what time we would be going, what day we're going kind of what to expect. So, at an event usually noise is
overwhelming crowds are overwhelming, so guaranteed, one of them will have a meltdown of some sort.

For me thinking through... so if the noise is too much, what might I do, take some headphones, or if too many people are a problem, where could I retreat to get that quiet space. When we came across the tent my youngest son Mason was already saying, I want to go home, I want to go home. 

So, one of the workers took us to the tent, where he didn't actually want to leave when he had his downtime when it's time to go. Our bribery to get him out was - well, we'll come back. For us, it meant we got to stay and in fact, he then was so comfortable that he went on a camel ride, which ordinarily that would never happen. And it might sound very simple to some families,
but for us, that was a huge achievement. 

I think that having that safe place that he saw as a safe place made it possible to go from beginning to end of the entire event.

From a perspective of family, you are helping us have those fun moments, which is in turn keeping the family together. Which is reducing stress in the home, which is making the parents cope with the kids better. And the kids are also more receptive to a fun
parent. And it's in the right context. 

But then from their perspective, from a council's perspective, we stayed from the beginning
to the end of that event, so we spent much more money than we would ordinarily spend. And because we are having that fun moment,
to be honest, I would probably guess that we would spend more than the average, because
we have to make the most of that in that moment. 

Having a safe zone where you are not going to be judged for their behaviour is huge. Yeah, you're going to get support, you're
going to get help rather than get a look or oh-my-god, that child is just, ah they should smack them sort of thing. 

And then not just to get the support, but then also to have the sensory tools available in that tent to decompress them down to make it a manageable event that you can come back out. 

For us, it gives our marriage a break, because we get to have some fun, we get to not be that parent that is demanding or trying to fix something, and just be with our kids and just have fun, we miss that. And it also gives our kids an opportunity to successfully socialise, which is a huge thing, not just for them, but for us as parents to know that we are
succeeding somewhere. And that's important.

Yeah, there's plenty of events that we just look at and go... like recently the Newcastle Show - Nah, forget it - Not doing it. 

The program of the sensory tent, there's nothing like that. If it's evident and advertised well that that tent is going to be there,
then that means that I am definitely going. It means that I don't have to prepare my children as much, of the expectations of what they need to expect of what's going to happen.

If we've got a safe zone for them to go to then everyone's a lot more relaxed. If my children are socialising successfully, then success leads to success. So then they're feeling confident that they are gong to be socially successful at school, or at that soccer game or whatever. Then as they grow, they are gong to be more successful at whatever they do. So the more I can successfully socialise them, then the less they are going to need to be financially dependent upon others for resources.