Trial between Baby Sensory and Sea Life UK explores sensory experiences in a water-based environment to support early years development

A new partnership between award-winning early years sensory experience provider, Baby Sensory, (part of the WOW World Group) and the world’s largest aquarium group Sea Life, is introducing babies to sensory activities in water-related surroundings, to explore the theory that being close to water and underwater sensory activities can aid their early development.

 “An aquarium can produce a range of learning benefits for a baby,” explains Dr Lin Day, renowned child development expert and founder of Baby Sensory. “These include visual and sensory benefits, vocabulary learning with words such as 'wet', 'warm', 'cold', 'bubble', as well as the names of the animals, and the opportunity to make discoveries.”

“The aquarium setting enhances this learning, particularly the science skills of observation and exploration, due to the different display temperatures and environments they are exposed to, from the icy Antarctic of penguins to the warm waters of the tropical ocean or the rainforest.”

From birth, babies need plenty of opportunities to track moving objects to stimulate the growth of neural connections in the brain. Babies can follow the path of moving sea creatures in the aquarium, which promotes visual development through focusing, eye-teaming, and tracking.

Activities in an aquarium environment can be particularly beneficial for babies with sensory impairments or disabilities.

“The aquarium setting is therapeutic, relaxing and calming, which makes it the perfect environment for babies with additional sensory needs,” Dr Lin adds. “It inspires exploration and it encourages them to express and release their emotions, which is really important for development.”

To further explore and celebrate the range of benefits for babies from play to sensory exploration in an aquarium environment, all WOW World Group programmes, including Baby Sensory, will be running special ‘Marine Week’ themed sessions commencing 18th March 2019. Sea Life aquariums across the UK will be partnering with the WOW World Group to offer special one-off taster sessions for the different programmes hosted within its aquariums during this week.

“We are excited to be partnering with WOW World Group to explore the learning benefits for children through hosting these taster sessions in the exclusive setting of our aquariums,” explains Craig Dunkerley, Head of Sea Life UK.

“They are the ideal opportunity for parents and their little ones to experience a taster of the renowned Baby Sensory programme first hand, in a truly unique environment. This is a huge development opportunity with both brands working in partnership, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Adventure playground and gardens to open in town centre 

Following an exciting redevelopment programme Westnye Gardens will open to the public on Saturday 30 March.

The Gardens are situated in the heart of Guildford, across the River Wey from Debenhams. The new design, created by Davis White Ltd - RHS Gold medal Hampton Court Flower winners, includes a variety of traditional play equipment from wobbly bridges to a tree climbing net. 

Young children will be able to play on the double width embankment slide and bounce around on the submerged trampoline. Other special additions include a brass rubbing post trail around the perimeter, a woven willow living pod and a magnifying post. Picnic tables and chairs and benches complete the scene. 

Local councillors were given a tour of the gardens in anticipation of the opening event. 

Leader of the Councillor and Lead Councillor for Planning and Regeneration, Cllr Paul Spooner said: 

“The transformation of the Westnye Gardens has been truly remarkable. The new design and play apparatus has bought life back to the Gardens creating another little jewel in the crown of our stunning historic town centre. Our Parks and Leisure team have done an exceptional job in connecting children with nature. We currently hold 9 Green Flag awards for our green spaces and this is testament to their work. The project to revitalise Westnye is part of the Council’s Play Strategy, ensuring that all of our play facilities are of a high standard and granting children the opportunity to play freely.”

Deputy Lead Councillor for Urban Parks & Recreation and Countryside & Rural, Cllr David Wright said: 

“It’s a wonderful space for families both local and those visiting to enjoy and serves as a good example of us listening and working closely with local residents to transform an underused area into something attractive and beneficial for all. Although the Gardens are equipped for young children we hope that perhaps other members of the community or those working in the town centre will be interested in visiting it.”

During the opening event, the Council’s Playrangers will be on hand from 12:30pm – 3:30pm. The Guildford Baptist Church are providing free refreshments and will also be open for families to use their facilities and also participate in some activities.

New museum – next steps towards a destination to showcase and celebrate innovation, creativity and place

The Executive will consider the latest progress and next stage in transforming our museum into a major focal point for heritage and the arts at its next meeting on 19 March. 

Lead Councillor for Skills, Arts and Tourism, Cllr Nikki Nelson-Smith says: “We aim to create a new attraction and cultural destination, based around an exciting and modern offer, which opens up the Castle Grounds and showcases our borough’s tremendous story and collections. We are involving residents, organisations and businesses in our plans to make sure we offer national exhibitions, as well the best of Guildford’s past, present and future. Their feedback has been an important part of the last year’s work, as we continue to make progress on this long-term and complex project. 

“We have a unique opportunity to provide a destination that recognises Guildford’s status and position in our region and a new museum is part of a much bigger picture. It will provide a significant local and regional focus for heritage and the arts by linking with a wide variety of our own and other attractions across our area. Celebrating Guildford’s amazing innovation, creativity and achievements, from the past wool trade to satellite technology and the thriving gaming industry, will attract more visitors and boost our local economy. A vibrant cultural space also encourages inward investment and interest from new companies looking for a great place to locate their business and workforce.” 

Regeneration of Guildford Museum is a complicated and challenging process, and projects of this scale, aspiration and investment take time and involve many different partners and stakeholders. Work so far has focussed on shaping the stories the museum will tell, ideas for events and activities, analysis of the site feasibility and developing a sustainable model for the future, all based on extensive audience research. 

Cllr Nelson- Smith adds: “Demonstrating new and inventive ways to share our arts and heritage is just one strand of our ongoing innovation theme. Our innovation strategy, which will also be considered at next week’s Executive meeting, shows how we support, implement and encourage ground-breaking initiatives to benefit people across our borough.” 

The Executive will consider the external fundraising options and next steps towards a possible opening of a new attraction in the summer of 2023. 

For more information about the Executive meeting on 19 March - or to watch the debate via our online webcast - please visit www.guildford.gov.uk/article/16717/Councillors-and-Decision-Making 

Science and art come alive at Innovate Guildford on 23 March

Our fantastic science and arts festival, Innovate Guildford is back for its 4th year on Saturday 23 March at G Live. Building on the success of previous events, this year’s Innovate promises to be the best yet! 

With exhibitors from across the local area, Innovate Guildford will inspire and delight people of all ages. There’s plenty for the kids to do and best of all the event is completely free. 

Cllr Paul Spooner, Leader of the Council says: "Innovate Guildford is a fantastic free day out for all the family. Guildford is a centre for innovation and it's great to see so many local companies taking part to showcase their projects and inspire the next generation."

Cllr Gordon Jackson, Lead Councillor for Innovation and Transformation adds: "There's lots on offer this year from photography workshops and Guildford Shakespeare Company's youth theatre to the chance to sit inside a McLaren supercar and a Formula Student electric racing car, so come and join us on Saturday 23 March at G Live."

Among the exhibitors this year are Surrey Satellite Technology, The Pirbright Institute, a pop-up Planetarium and the Academy of Contemporary Music. Visitors will be able to book for the small number of ticketed events, including photo workshops from Sharp Shots, when they arrive at the venue. 

Plus we’ve got a special treat for computer gamers – Guildford’s megastar game company Media Molecule will be at the show with brand new entertainment! 

The event, which is kindly sponsored by Autolawn and Kyan and supported by Experience Guildford and engineering firm Vision Triteq,  will run from 10am to 5pm at G Live, so join us for a day out with a difference. Visit www.innovateguildford.co.uk for the full list of exhibitors and what's on during the day.

The University of Surrey are taking part in this year's event, showcasing some of the inspirational things they are achieving at the forefront of research and technology. 

Nikki Dormon, Public Engagement Manager at the University of Surrey, which is taking part for the fourth time, added: 

“Innovate Guildford provides the perfect opportunity to share some of the inspirational work the University of Surrey is undertaking through research and innovation - with the young minds of the future. We’ve got lots of exciting exhibits and demonstrations planned this year, such as a full size Formula Student racing car, powered by electricity and constructed by our students and an interactive experience on how music and our emotions are linked. 

“Innovative thinking is shaping the future, and we always look forward to being a part of this fantastic event.” 

Registration is open for Team Guildford's free taster sessions

Last night, local Olympian Liam Heath MBE and 30 young people nominated to be Specsavers Surrey Youth Games Young Ambassadors, came together to celebrate a new programme of free sessions aimed at giving young people the chance to try a variety of sports and physical activities in Guildford. 

The Young Ambassadors, who represented Team Guildford in the 2018 Games, heard how they could help promote the free local pre-Games taster sessions to pupils in their schools. 

Wey Kayak Club’s Olympic Sprint Canoeist Champion, Liam Heath MBE, gave a special motivational speech on his sporting successes so far. He also took part in a short Q&A session from the Ambassadors and had photos taken with 
each school group.

The Specsavers Surrey Youth Games target audience for the 2019 taster sessions is complete beginners- the sessions are not open to club players already participating.

Cllr Iseult Roche, Lead Councillor for Community, Health and Project Aspire, said: 

“Last night was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the opportunities available for young people in Guildford to get active, through the launch of the Specsavers Surrey Youth Games taster sessions - and for local school children to mix with an outstanding Olympian athlete from Guildford. Team Guildford’s free, beginner taster sessions give young people the opportunity to get physically active, try something new and make friends! I hope many local young people take part and benefit from this fantastic opportunity!”

Young people aged between 6 and 16 who go to school in, or live in Guildford, can now sign up to take part in the free taster sessions. There is a wide range of activities for both boys and girls and for different age groups. 

We have worked with local sports clubs and coaches to provide these fun and accessible taster activities. The sessions are held over 6-8 weeks across a wide range of different sporting activities and take place between April and June. The event weekend in June, brings participants together from across the county, to play, be part of a team and compete on a level playing field with other beginners.

Over 2000 young people across the county, are involved in the Specsavers Surrey Youth Games, making it Surrey’s biggest annual youth sports festival.

Cllr Iseult Roche, Lead Councillor for Community Health, Wellbeing and Project Aspire adds:

“It is amazing to see so many young people get involved and enjoy being active in our borough through the Surrey Youth Games. The Specsavers Surrey Youth Games provides a great introduction to sporting activity in a welcoming and fun environment. The development of opportunities for people to participate in sports and physical activity in Guildford is a key aim for the Council.”

The 2019 Specsavers Surrey Youth Games event, will take place over the weekend of Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 June 2019 at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.

For more information on how to sign up for these free taster sessions, please visit: www.guildford.gov.uk/syg