Today we visited the Ladywood Family Centre, which ended up fully convincing me that I want to do pediatrics or neonatal specifically. I already had an interest, but getting to see the kids was such a joyful experience and I can not see myself in any other part of the field.
Ladywood, which is operated through West Smethwick Enterprise (WSE), is a free pre-school program that supports children from low-income areas. Sandwell is ranked the 12th most deprived local authority out of 317 in England, with 27.6% of children under 16 living in poverty. Sandwell is also ethnically diverse, with 51% of school children from a minority ethnic group.
Ladywood offer many parental support systems for free as well that mainly center around helping parents communicate with their children rather than ordering them or throwing a device in their face. One program I thought was great was Healthy Happy Tums, which focuses on educating families on healthier eating. In the midst of food deserts and food swamps, this programs helps families avoid easier takeaway options due to stress and a lack of time. It also helps people figure out meal planning ahead of time. Obviously, there are programs for academic development of the children. Some of the big ones are REAL ( raising early achievement in literacy) and REAM (raising early achievement in maths). These programs give kids the ability to thrive in school despite not having certain socioeconomic privileges.
We took a quick tour through the facility and saw the play areas, the library, the kitchen, the future garden area, the playground, and the upstairs that is in talks of being used as additional rooms. The room that stuck out to me especially was the sensory room. My preschool did not have a room like that. It was also in the high school I eventually graduated from and has not expanded since, so I doubt it even has the space. I was a very skittish and sensitive child who refused to interact with anyone outside of my immediate family or my trusted adults (aka my teacher that year). The second a change would happen (ex. a substitute teacher) I would essentially shutdown and become inconsolable. These days, I would’ve probably been diagnosed with some type of separation anxiety. That being said, I definitely could have benefitted from a room to calm down in and receive positive stimuli.
Something small I also noticed at the facility was a small poster that said “Eid Mubarak”. This may seem insignificant, but seeing a holiday that does not fall under Christian tradition being acknowledged so casually was a far cry from the U.S., where that would be quickly politicized and made into a controversy. It shows the faculty’s commitment to diversity and representation in a community that needs it, and the level of diversity of the kids they are serving.
At 1pm, we had a lecture covering social work. The presenters made an observation that I was guilty of, which was that many people see social workers as an accessory to cops who usually end up separating families (though it often is for good reason). This is not true though, and the presentation showed me that working with social workers indicated positive outcomes for patients. Social workers in schools often work with special education students, or students coming from problematic homes. Social workers give them someone to confide in who is actually there to advocate for them rather than get them or their parents in trouble. Something I was not aware of before this lecture was the existence of “ghost children”, or kids who never returned to school after COVID lockdowns lifted. This raises numerous questions. Where are the kids? Have the school contacted home? Is there a way to get authorities involved? How can social workers play a role in locating these children?
Much later in the day, we went to a pizza party with nursing students from BCU. This event ended up being incredibly fun and heartwarming. They held a short ceremony for us where we read a pledge to providing the best possible nursing care possible. Taking part in this event that means so much to the students and being welcomed into the BCU family was heartwarming and was highpoint to end our time at BCU on. One of the most enlightening parts of this trip has been interactions with students and locals, and getting to understand the differences between the U.S. and the UK through experience rather than lecture.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get many pictures today since the childcare center did not allow them, and I simply forgot at the dinner. I hope to get many more in the coming days!