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Grand Stories – Maryiam and Sorayah

47-year-old grandmother, Maryiam is no stranger to us here at Better Start Bradford. She is certainly determined to be the best grandmother that she can possibly be as she has taken part in many of our parenting courses including Talking Together, HENRY, Cooking For A Better Start and loved them all so much that she is now a HENRY Champion and a Better Start Bradford Community Champion.

Maryiam jumped at the opportunity to take part in some pilot Older Yet Wiser workshops, which were so successful that Better Start Bradford have funded ChildsSide to deliver a whole programme of Older Yet Wiser grandparenting workshops to start in 2021 through its Innovation Fund programme. Older yet Wiser helps grandparents understand what they can do to make a greater impact on their grandchildren’s lives and their social and emotional wellbeing.

Maryiam and her 18-month-old granddaughter (at the time) Sorayah also met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earlier this year when they visited Bradford. Sorayah stole the show during the visit when the Duchess of Cambridge picked her up to talk and play with her.

Maryiam’s Grand Story

Hello my name is Maryiam Ahmad. I’m mum to four wonderful children aged 26, 24, 18 and 17 years old. I am also grandma to three grandsons aged six, four, three, and my granddaughter, Sorayah who is two.

I regularly look after my grandchildren, while my daughter is working or simply because I love spending time with them and it gives her a break. I know what it is like to be a mum of very young children and how important it is for her to have some ‘me time’.

I am a HENRY Parent Champion and I did my training just over three years ago after I attended the HENRY programme as a grandma to learn more about healthy lifestyle habits for me and my family. I was interested in supporting families in the BD3 community and so found out more about volunteering.

I now volunteer with HENRY across BD3 and I’m also helping in the BD5 community. I love volunteering so much that I have also recently trained to become a Better Start Bradford Community Champion too.

I find working in the local community so rewarding as you get to meet so many parents from different backgrounds and places. You get to build up relationships with the parents, grandparents and carers and you also see the children grow up.

I jumped at the chance to meet other grandparents

When the opportunity came up to take part in the Older Yet Wiser pilot workshops, I jumped at the chance to be able to meet other grandparents.

The course was so interesting. In the first week we learned about the structure and development of a child’s brain. I learned how important the first few years of development are on the growing brain and was quite shocked at the massive impact outside factors have on baby’s brains.

Each week, we got an educational gift to try out with our grandchildren

Each week of the course we got an educational gift that we could try out with our grandchildren. I especially loved the puppets as they were great fun and I could talk through them with my grandchildren. I actually found out that my grandson was worried about another child at nursery through chatting with him using the puppets. It is such a good way to connect and have conversations with your grandchildren.

We learnt about the importance of child-led play

We also learnt about the importance of playing with our grandchildren and in particular child-led play where you let your grandchild choose how and what they want to play with you.

Judith Shalkowski and Liz Ranson, who run Older Yet Wiser were absolutely amazing. They really know what they are talking about when it comes to grandparenting and as a group we really bonded well together. You think you know everything as a grandparent, but you really don’t. I wish I had known how important play was when my children were growing up.

I was absolutely thrilled when we got chance to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

I was absolutely thrilled when our Older Yet Wiser group got the chance to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit to Bradford. Even my family members in Pakistan saw the photos of Princess Kate holding my granddaughter Sorayah. I was so blown away by her, she was so lovely.

About Older Yet Wiser

The Older Yet Wiser workshops are developed and delivered by ChildsSide and are funded through Better Start Bradford’s Innovation Fund programme.

The six-week two-hour sessions help grandparents understand what they can do to make a greater impact on a grandchild’s life and enable them to contribute to their social and emotional wellbeing. The coursework and group activities give the tools that enhance your relationship, whilst sharing up-to-date knowledge on giving children the best start in life.

A free educational gift is given after every session including puppets, bubbles, play dough, art materials, and instruments.

Older Yet Wiser workshops will be starting early 2021. In the meantime you can hear more from ChildsSide during Baby Week Bradford because they are delivering a Childhood Transition Tips for Grandparents Webinar on Thursday 12 November 2020 10:00am to 12:00noon. More information about Baby Week can be found at www.babyweekbradford.org.

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