Parents in the ABSS areas can soon look forward to a new A Better Start Southend mascot thanks to the co-production work to turn children and families’ ideas into a reality. The mascot, an idea first created by Parent Champions, has been put into a process that will see children and parents involved throughout its development.

Children aged 0-3, as well as their siblings, will be a key part of the creative process in developing this, with the first innovation group being held in mid-June for the Cluster area (Milton, Victoria and Westborough wards), Kursaal area (12th July) and Shoeburyness and West Shoebury (Date TBC). Children at the sessions have the chance to get completely creative with a range of materials to help their creativity flow! While the children were involved in the imaginative process, parents chatted with the SAVS Parent Engagement team on how best to communicate the concept of the ABSS programme to new mums and dads, as well as how to explain the benefits it can bring.

Following the first innovation workshop, Julia, one of the key Parent Champion drivers of the mascot, explained further:

‘The Mascot Innovation group has co-production at its heart. Children are given the freedom to come up with designs in a relaxed and fun environment, whilst their parents are consulted about how we might improve engagement with them so their journey with A Better Start Southend and that of other parents is more meaningful. 

We all had great fun at the first workshop and came away with a lot of learning to apply to the next [Kursaal] one. We may not be using sand next time though, as although we did get some creations, we also got a lot of sand flicking and one or two children thinking they were in Southend beach! Nothing a good Hoover can’t handle.

We will continue getting the message about the workshops out there and loving the process. In the meantime, you can all wait and wonder what our completed mascot is going to be. One little girl said she thought it would sound like a whale………Keep on guessing’

As well as the mascots, one of the other items our Parent Champions have been hard at work at is creating their very own engagement video. The video explains various aspects of the ABSS co-production work and, more importantly, how the project has already transformed their lives. It sees appearances from the SAVS Parent Engagement Officers and five of our Parent Champions.

The video was created to better showcase the work that is being done by the Parent Champions and helps highlight some of the ABSS co-production and other success stories. Ward Panels, the Milton Park project, Breastfeeding Support Groups, parent newsletters and parents’ Partnership Board meetings involvement are all mentioned. First shown at the NatCen ‘Putting Research into Action’ event at the start of June, the video will be used by the SAVS Parent Engagement team to promote the programme to other parents. A second video is already being planned by parents, based on the positive reaction to their first one. Watch this space over the coming months.

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