Puddle Jumpers equips young people with the confidence and skills to assume more control and make informed choices in their everyday lives.
We provide opportunities and support for children and families at risk through holidays and recreational activities designed to promote personal, social and cultural growth and development. Our programs are designed to empower young people to develop social, communication, co-operation, team building, conflict management and problem solving skills, as well as to develop self-esteem and confidence.
We provide camps for children, both boys and girls from birth to 15 years (children under 5 must be accompanied by a parent or carer). This enables siblings who reside together and those that don’t an opportunity to come on camp together, thus providing another avenue for sibling access in a relaxed environment. It also means a welcome break for carers as we can often accept placements for a family of children which enables respite for parents/carers/guardians during the children’s time away on camp.
We also have camps for families to attend together, including camps for specific groups such as Grandparents raising their grandchildren. On these camps children from the age of birth are welcome to attend and we make every effort to support their attendance by assisting with port-a-cots, high chairs, and other items needed for their stay such as baby/toddler meals.
Our camps have different themes such as:
- Pirates Camp
- Camp Disco
- Winter Wonderland
- Superheroes Camp
- Life's A Beach Camp
- Big Top Camp Circus
- Christmas Camp
The camp's duration is weekends for children/families from a Friday afternoon through to a Sunday afternoon. For the volunteers, we add a day before and an evening afterwards to enable pre and post camp training/reviews to occur. Each camp aims to offer opportunities such as social interaction, developing relationships, fostering self-esteem and self-worth development and enhancement of skills and knowledge. This is undertaken through activities such as swimming, bike riding, challenges, team sports, crafts and games. This ensures we build positive relationships with the young people through equality, respect and friendship while displaying appropriate role modeling at all times.
In order to maintain our programs of development for children, we also provide a "MinTies" program that is conducted during our camps for children between the ages of 14 to 16 years. The name "MinTie" refers to a Mentor in training, where the role of a MinTie is to ensure that the children on camp enjoy themselves in a safe environment. Like all our programs, this role aims to empower young people to develop their conflict and behaviour management, communication, team-building and problem-solving skills in a safe and fun environment, with the guidance of our volunteers.
Unlike the rest of the children however, the camp’s duration for the MinTies runs from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon to enable pre camp training and offer opportunities for social interaction and develop relationships with the rest of the volunteers on camp.
Already, our MinTies program is incredibly successful, with several of our past MinTies, graduating as full volunteers and going on to take positions of leadership on our camps, pushing themselves out of the comfort zones and showing their willingness to jump in and help wherever necessary. Not only as an inspiration to fellow MinTies but to other volunteers as well.
We hold various single day activity days for children and/or families at various times throughout the year. These events take place at various locations throughout Adelaide including:
- A Day at the Zoo
- Horse Riding & Bowling
- Roller Skating & Parks
- Ice Skating
- Jam Factory tour
- Cooking for Fun
- Rock climbing / Trampolining
- A Day at the Beach and/or Pool
- Movies & Munchies
Ratios of Children to Volunteers
On both activity days and camps we aim to have 1:1 ratios of children to volunteers and it’s really remarkable to watch the bonds that can develop with mentors and children in a short space of time. It also means we can work with children that have behaviour difficulties or challenges in social situations. We are more flexible in being able to cater to the individual needs of children!
On Puddle Jumpers camps children and volunteers learn about the ripple effect, through nightly participating in a session they affectionately call "Ripple Time". During this special time on camp, children and volunteers sit in a circle on the floor, and a bowl of water is placed into a centre of a circle. Everyone is given a pebble and the Ripple Effect is talked about and the children are shown through dropping a pebble into the water about their actions, their thoughts and how that might have an impact on those around them and most importantly on themselves.
We discuss that happiness is a choice you can make yourself. It is our aim to give children an understanding of how their happiness and perspective influences their day-to-day lives and the lives of those around them. A simple small act like smiling can have a ripple effect. A smile can change someone’s whole day. As a part of the "Ripple Time" Puddle Jumpers also aims to show children that they have the power to be able to start ripples, teaching children to do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return, in essence helping children believe that selfless acts of kindness are a great way to start a new ripple.
Puddle Jumpers changes up the "Ripple Time" sessions. Some nights, children and volunteers are given the opportunity to drop a stone into the bowl and talk about someone that has made a positive ripple in their life, other nights the session changes to include passing a stone to someone on camp that you have seen or heard about making positive ripples on camp. This provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge all the good things that others have or are doing and rewards these positive actions.
Community Food Nights
Our Food Nights are an early intervention, family strengthening program that is held every Monday night (including Public Holidays) from 5pm to 7pm with one session from 5pm to 6pm and a second session from 6pm to 7pm. In the backyard of our premises at Glandore, we offer market style collect your own free food, where a thank you can be shown through a donation of a pantry item or 2, or plastic bags. Throughout the night we also provide free tea and coffee to anyone that comes through, along with a home-cooked meal for people to enjoy while they pick up their goods. Usually, we have fruit, vegetables, bread, milk and toiletries for anyone needing them. On occasion, depending on what is donated, we are also able to offer free toys, books, homewares, clothes at the same time.
What is most wonderful about our premises at Glandore and what makes us different to other services, we are able to provide an area for children to play in with equipment, sports toys and volunteers (Police Checked) to play with the children to provide them with a fun and safe environment while their carers and parents collect their goods.
What makes our Food Nights different to the rest?
When parents are unable to pay for the basic necessities their children need (such as medical and school bills, food, clean water, or electricity), children are at much greater risk of being abandoned or removed from their homes. To prevent this, we have implemented an early intervention, family strengthening program such as our Food Nights to provide support to families who need it most. Often these families are single parent households, Domestic Violence survivors in search of support, newly migrants to Australia or those facing serious financial disadvantages.
Through these programs we aim to keep families together, while at the same time maintaining safe environments for children to thrive in. For our Food Nights, we make sure our program maintains the same design as the rest of our services: empowering young people to develop social, communication, co-operation, team building, conflict management and problem solving skills, as well as to develop self-esteem and confidence. We also aim to enhance community cohesion, promote social inclusion while encouraging respect and tolerance for social diversity. And it’s this design that makes us different to all the rest: our priority of children. With one third of children accessing food relief in South Australia, we are the only food relief service that targets families (children first), both through their development and safety.
Some of the activities and services we have been able to provide through our Food Nights include, but are not limited to:
- Free haircuts
- Christmas presents for children provided
- Community respite to the parents and carers as they get food, while the children play and interact with our volunteers in the play and sports equipment
- Free activities and entertainment for children to engage in
- Craft activities such as colour-in sheets, paper puzzles etc.
- Themed Food Nights for major holidays
- Birthday celebrations for regular families and children
- Engaging with young children volunteers (14+ years) in a positive environment where they learn to give back to the community and interact with others in a safe environment
But more than anything, our Food Nights are a community for anyone and everyone to thrive, this includes the children and families we support, and the volunteers who provide that support.
We find that through our Food Nights, those that attend regularly have:
- Formed new relationships and friendships, both between the children and the families along with the volunteers,
- They are more comfortable in the surroundings of the premises,
- Expressed a sense of belonging and connectedness both with the community and with the organization,
- Celebrated each other’s accomplishments as a community,
- Assisted with the development of a supportive community,
- Implemented and assisted with safety, wellbeing and behavior policies relevant to our community,
Become more involved and engaged with the volunteers, with some insisting to help themselves as a way of thanks.
Why is our Community Food Night important as an early intervention programs and family strengthening services?
Research conducted both internationally and nationally, surrounding disadvantaged children, shows a correlation with social development and food insecurity. Sadly, both the World Health Organization and UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund) published the interaction between food insecurity and lack of stimulation (2006 & 2014). They illustrated that children who don’t receive enough nutritious food, and enough social interaction, can result them with long term issues of poor growth, delays in development and mental health problems.
Considering the numbers of how many people are seeking food relief, Foodbank reported (2017) that over 100,000 people, in South Australia alone, experience food insecurity every month with a third of them being children, and of that 89% of them are under the age of 12. This is why our services are absolutely crucial.
What is most notable about our services and the need for our Community Food Night, is the effect of food insecurity and its consequences on children. Further research was conducted just last year, which focused on the views and experiences of children living with disadvantage and the responses were staggering (Bessell, 2017). For children, relationships are the core of what makes a positive community. For the children who participated in the research, strong and supportive intergenerational relations, based on inclusion and mutual respect are essential to a ‘good’ community. When relationships are poor or non-existent, children feel both excluded and unsafe. When children have few interpersonal connections with adults, or when adults in their communities behave in disrespectful or exclusionary ways, children's distrust is heightened – all adults become strangers and all present potential dangers.
Within the Puddle Jumpers community, social inclusion and interaction is absolutely paramount for our Food Nights to positively thrive. By maintaining positive encounters with our volunteers, and providing a positive environment for other families and adults to use, the children within our community are most benefitted for social integration and connectedness.
Major Partners of our Community Food Night:
Our Food Nights would not be what they are today if it wasn’t for the incredible support of our Major Partners and contributors to our programs. A massive THANK YOU to our amazing partners for all of their support, time and services.
Our Supporters of Community Food Nights:
A massive THANK YOU also to all the businesses and organizations that have supported us by donating their products, services, money and time, both to our major Food Night events and/or to our standard Monday nights.
For more information about our Community Food Nights, be sure to contact us on (08) 7071 5270 or 0400 999 349 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are also more than welcome to find us on Facebook, and keep updated on the weekly events listed on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PuddlejumpersSA/.