This past Christmas, our Jersey office decided to make a change to their usual Secret Santa activity to benefit hundreds of young children across the island.
Rather than exchange Secret Santa gifts, our Jersey ‘First Names’ donated £10 each to the Jersey Child Care Trust (JCCT) to enable the charity to buy specialist signing puppets for every local day nursery and pre-school in the island.
The puppets are learning aids with a difference – primarily meant to help children learn sign language, they are colourful, cuddly and utterly charming. With our Jersey team having successfully raised £1400 for the cause, 30 lovely puppets arrived at the JCCT offices early in the New Year.
Each puppet of course needed a name, so First Names Group put the names of everyone who donated into a hat and the first 30 chosen were given to the puppets. Each puppet has since been embroidered with his or her first name and distribution of the puppets to their new homes is underway.
The first puppet presentation took place last week at La Petite Ecole Day Nursery at Fort Regent, where three lucky First Names and ITV Channel joined in with a ‘Sing and Sign’ session. At the end of the sing-along, the children were asked to choose which puppet they would like to keep. The kids unanimously chose Tommi, whose real-life namesake was in attendance!
Manager of La Petite Ecole, Helen Evans, said of the initiative:
“Several of our staff team recently completed one of the ‘Sing and Sign’ training sessions that are provided by the JCCT and they have been so enthusiastic about the benefits to capturing the imagination of all the children. To receive our very own specialist signing puppet is wonderful news and will make our sing and sign sessions even better. We are very grateful to the staff at First Names Group for their generosity.”
Executive Director of the Jersey Child Care Trust, Fiona Vacher, added:
“These puppets bring singing and story sessions to life for every young child. Whilst the benefits are particularly clear for children with communication difficulties, every child enjoys the movement and fun of learning new signs during sing and story times. It has been lovely to introduce this aspect of our work with children to the employees at First Names Group and we plan to update them with how their puppets are settling into their new nurseries in the near future!”