Blue Skies Initiative
Workshops are held to encourage early play skills

A local initiative is helping to bring new parents together and teach them skills aimed at helping to develop children’s health and wellbeing.

The Blue Skies Initiative is based in the Oakfield Industrial Estate in Clondalkin and has seen over 300 parents come through its doors to avail of its free courses.

Coordinator Karen Costello told Dublin Gazette: “Our catchment area would be south west and north Clondalkin and some of Lucan.

“We don’t do a lot of direct services for young people and children.

“What we do is look at the community and upskill so if our funding got cut in the morning, the skills are left in the community.”

Blue Skies run an antenatal programme that steers away from the physical preparation of birth and focuses on psychological preparation of becoming a parent.

They also run an Upto2 programme. This programme is a universal parenting support programme for parents and babies from 0 to 2 years of age.

The programme aims to strengthen parenting skills and enhance infant wellbeing, learning and development.

The Upto2 Programme combines a range of group-based, developmentally-appropriate parent and infant supports which are delivered in a coordinated intervention process in ‘clusters’ to parents over the first two years of their infants’ lives.

“We also run play and talk workshops to encourage early play skills and literacy development from a very early age,” said Karen.

“It’s about how to play with your child and how to encourage a good positive learning environment at home.”

The courses have proved invaluable for both new parents and parents who are having their second or third child.

“What also happens organically is that in some of the parenting groups they will set up a WhatsApp group and they have that social support afterwards,” said Karen.

Blue Skies are also working to create an Infant Health and Well-Being Strategy to develop knowledge, skills, practice and services for the pre-birth to three-years period of life.

A free information session will be held on Thursday, July 26 from 12:30pm to 2pm in Áras Chrónáin Irish Cultural Centre in Clondalkin and will be facilitated by Senior Clinical Psychologist and Infant Mental Health Specialist Catherine Maguire.

The next Upto2 programme will commence on Wednesday, September 5.

Anyone who is interested can contact us through our website or by emailing blueskiesinitiative@archways.ie.