Photo Credit – City of Parramatta Winterlight Festival
For any parent, school holidays can be as challenging as they are fun. For parents of kids with special needs, disruption of normal routines and activities be particularly difficult. Whether you’re able to have some time off work yourself, or you’re engaging some support to help you out over the school break, we’ve taken a look at just some of the accessible activities on offer around the country to help keep the kids engaged.
Mable is an online platform where people can use their NDIS funding to find and directly engage independent support workers. It’s a flexible, cost-effective solution that provides many families with respite or extra support they need over the school holidays.
You can search the profiles of independent support workers in your area and discuss their rates, availability and type of support required directly. Or, if you need to find someone fast, you can post a job with details of what you need, and wait for independent workers who may be interested to reach out to you.
Whether you’re staying local or heading out of town, you can find flexible support all over Australia. To provide you with a little holiday inspiration, here’s a snapshot of just some accessible kids activities around the country.
The Museum of Brisbane’s kids school holiday program will feature free arts, activities and daily workshops with professional artists and designers. For kids with a curiosity about science, SparkLab is Queensland Museum’s new experience where kids can explore 40 interactive exhibits across three zones to discover how ‘STEM’ affect our everyday world.For the musically minded, QPac’s creative fusion holiday program is a three-day music making program for ages 10 and up. The program provides a safe, supervised environment for young musicians to create together, while also inviting older community musicians to be part of the music-making process.
Francophile families can visit the Southbank for the Brisbane French Festival, which will feature Le Mini-Festival for kids on the 6th and 7th of July. If you’re heading to the Gold Coast and need ideas, check out Have Wheelchair Will Travel’s fantastic blog on accessible family attractions.
Little performers can pick up some new skills with Cirkidz programs, which are built to focus on mindfulness, safe risk taking, inclusion and social interaction. Theater Bugs also offers a range of school holiday programs suited for ages 5 to 14 years, with the Adelaide Theatre Academy offering courses for kids 12-18 years old. Their motto is ‘every child is a star’ and are proud to ensure an inclusive experience for all aspiring performers.
For kids who are more into dinos than drama, Jurassic Creatures at Bonython Park is an interactive event that brings to life a prehistoric world full of moving dinosaurs. Or for a taste of the outdoors, Cleland Wildlife Park is offering a number of guided tours and animal experiences so parents can sit back and relax while the kids adventure.
New South Wales
The Cerebral Palsy Alliance has a number of events on offer in NSW ranging from a Healthy Kids Intensive promoting healthy living, sports and exercise participation and social skills building, to a one-day Life Lab designed to help young adults aged 16-30 improve their money management skills. You can search via your postcode on their website to find out what’s on near you. As reported here by Time Out, the Winterlight Festival in Parramatta will feature tonnes of icy fun including glowing carnival rides, an ice rink (and even mulled wine for the adults!). For the littler kids, The Peppa Pig Playdate will descend on the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour for an accessible and fully interactive experience for the family.
Like to take the kids to a show? These holidays, The Glen Street Theatre in French’s Forest will host Robot Song, a play that celebrates difference and draws on an 11 year old girl’s experiences with autism. And for the younger kids, Hans Christian Anderson’s The Ugly Duckling will play at The Joan in Penrith to entertain kids aged 5-8.
From ice-skating to hot chocolate and caramel apple hot toddies for mum and dad, The Winter Village at Fed Square is a spectacular experience featuring see-through igloos which can be booked for private use. There’s always something to see and do at ArtPlay, a space for kids up to 12 years old to explore their creativity. Over the holidays they will have a range of workshops, exhibitions and performances that reflect Melbourne’s diversity. If you haven’t yet, take the kids to see the venue’s interactive exhibition Beneath, where they can explore an underwater landscape created from recycled plastic.
The kids can see dinosaurs up close when they make an appearance at Melbourne Zoo with DinoPark where walls are down and the beasts are free. Or, for a more in-depth prehistoric experience, Melbourne Museum’s Meet the Museum Experts: Palaeontology sessions will allow kids six-and-up to dig for fossils.
The WA Disabled Sports Association will run some programs over the holidays including Learn to Swim, Archery and Bush Skills and even a Historical Bush Retreat at Fairbridge Village, Pinjarra.
Budding chefs can pop into Little Creatures for a pizza making school with the Little Creatures chefs. Best part, you can eat it after! For kids who love to get messy with art, the Freemantle Arts Centre will offer a range of art courses for kids aged 5 and up. Or for lovers of nature, The Critics Conservation Centre at Mandurah Forum will encourage an awareness of the environment, and offer specific all abilities sessions with reduced noise and smaller groups. Perth’s Winter Fest Theatre will also return, featuring a variety of shows including acrobatics, comedians, rope experts, musical storytelling, magicians and amazing circus talent. The Autism Association of Western Australia will host school holiday therapy programs for kids aged 0-7, focusing on the development of social communication skills under the guidance of Speech Pathologists and OTs. KZ Speech will also run intensive programs over the holidays which focus on the development of language and social skills in pre-school and school aged children.
For kids that want to bang it out, Keep the Beat run all inclusive highly interactive drumming experiences for kids over the holidays. If you get a group together, they can travel to you in various locations across Tasmania.
Those in Hobart can take the kids to The Playhouse Theatre to see Treasure Island from June 28, a swashbuckling adventure for all ages. Or for kids who’d rather be on the stage, ExitLeft Studio Kingston will be hosting Fairytale Theatre Holiday Workshops for kids aged 5-12.
The Alice Springs Show will return over the 5th – 6th of July with all the fun of the showbags, rides and a farmyard where the kids can get up close and personal with the animals. For race lovers, the traditional ‘family day’ for the Darwin Cup Carnival will fall on 13 July with entertainment for the kids alongside the action.
The Darwin Fringe Festival coming to the city from July 5 is not just for the adults, but will also feature workshops, park fun and NAIDOC Week story time – and on the 8th, Darwin City Library will create a Tech Zone where kids can tinker with robots, games, virtual reality and more.
Canberra is packed with culture and these school holidays, the national attractions have pulled out all the stops with great family friendly holiday activities.
First up, it’s a little theatre with multi-Helpmann Award nominated production of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dirty Beasts at Canberra Theatre Centre. Suitable for aged 5 and up, more information about audio described and live captioning can be found here. The Australian School of Performing Arts’ two-day ‘Take the Stage’ holiday program will help kids aged 5 to 14 discover and develop their inner performer.
The Australian War Memorial will host ‘Hands on History’ week, where kids can try on clothing, handle items and hear real stories of people who served, while the National Museum will run a number of holiday workshops with a focus on traditional Chinese Art, where kids can Learn traditional dragon and lion dances, make a scroll or try out a little Kung Foo.
Questacon never fails to amaze and right now visitors can get up close and personal with the moon in a special exhibition. Plus, Mini Q is a custom-built environment for little scientists aged 0-6, encouraging them to explore their environment..For some outdoor fun, Stories in the Forest at The Arboretum will take kids aged 4-8 on a fairy hunt through the hundred-year-old Cork oak forest to discover who stole winter and learn why the forest needs winter to thrive.
Activities across the country
Skating At Aus will be setting up pop-up ice rinks at various locations across Australia including Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and more. All sites are wheelchair accessible, and wheelchairs can go onto the ice-rink for a glide. Companion cards/Carers cards are permitted and receive a free skate ticket.
Sony Foundation Australia’s Holiday Camps offer a unique respite program where high school and university students take on the responsibility for the care of children with special needs, allowing their families to have a valuable weekend off. This year, the Foundation will fund 30 camps across Australia.
If you’d like to book a little extra support over the holidays, or even someone to support you if you’re taking the family on a trip, you can search for independent support workers in your area.