Outdoor adventure helping families grow

For the 2016-17 year the Social Services team received 408 referrals for individual children/young people or to work with family groups. They also provided budgeting support and financial mentoring for 107 individual people/families.

Adventure Days provide a fun outdoor challenge for children and their parents. 

On a summer's day in January, 7 children and parents went to Orton Bradley Park on Banks Peninsula for a fun day out doing orienteering, high ropes and other activities. They were accompanied by CMM social workers and staff from Adventure Specialities Trust who ran the day.

Over the past year CMM has collaborated with Adventure Specialities to run three adventure days for children who are clients of the social services team. CMM Social Worker Susan Smith says that the days "provide a great opportunity for parents and caregivers to experience being in nature and adventuring with their kids. Some of the children have never been outside of Christchurch. They can test themselves and have a positive social experience with their parents and other children."

As well as providing a safe environment to have fun outdoors, the adventure days enable the social workers to observe the dynamic between children and their parents. "We get to see how the work that we do plays out - particularly around parenting strategies. Being in the outdoors gives parents a good opportunity to communicate and problem solve with their children, " says Susan.

The children benefit both psychologically and physiologically. They learn how to follow instructions as well as practicing how to think for themselves in certain situations. Doing physical activities in the outdoors promotes the production of endorphins. "For children with attention difficulties, being outdoors helps regulate their mood and behaviour," says Susan.

The adventure days are just one aspect of the wrap-around support provided by CMM's Social Services team. Over the past 12 months the team provided home-based services to families needing assistance with parenting, managing children's challenging behaviour and family relationships. This included working alongside foster carers, grandparents and others dealing with the complexities of looking after other peoples' children. They also worked individually with children and young people who have experienced trauma and many changes in their lives, or who are struggling in school or the community.