by Esther Gilligan, Manager, Day Activity Centre, St Vincent’s Centre, Navan Road


Helen Sonnet is a teacher, writer of activity books for children and parent of a person with a disability. Ann Taylor is a leader of a comunity Gateway club. The authors have collaborated to combine their talents and expertise. They share the valuable session ideas they have used in clubs with other people working in similar settings, e.g. supported living houses or community clubs.

This book is very practical in its approach, and it begins with a note on how to use it. There is a description of specific keys that are to be found at the beginning of each activity. These guide the leader/instructor regarding the level of assistance/support required for the participants, e.g. w/ch (suitable for wheelchair users), L1 (minimum assistance needed), or L3 (high level of assistance required by those engaging in the task).

The book is divided into seven sections.

Cooking: This section begins with some practical guidance about the things to consider before starting the session, e.g chief cook, pre-activity preparation, cookery helpers, baker. It lists 8 recipes, each of them with guidelines regarding the level of support required by the participants. The reader is advised as to whether the activity is ‘messy’, and the need to be aware of sharp or hot objects. Information is then given indicating the equipment needed, the ingredients and the recipe to complete the dish.

Arts and Crafts: In the introduction to this section, the authors suggest that recyclable materials should be used for any art/craft session. They indicate 10 art/craft activities. Again a key indicates the level of assistance required. The necessary equipment and preparation are outlined, as is the method for completing the task.

Party Games: 7 party games are outlined in the same format, explaining the preparation, equipment needed and method. The introduction in this section gives tips on the selection of activities and a sequence of party games, e.g. active games, followed by more sedentary ones.

General Games: 10 General games in the same format as in the other sections. In the introduction group, activities are suggested and the need to have sufficient support staff to assist in involving participants with each activity.

Special Occasions: 9 activity suggestions are given for organising special occasionsm again with preparation hints, and indications of suitability and levels of ability needed. Templates are also given in this section for cutting out or copying designs.

Drama and dance: 9 activities are suggested, with preparation, equipment needed, and how to organise and run each activity. Again the level of assistance/support required is stressed.

Outside Events: This section suggests 6 outside events and, as in previous sections, there are suggestions for preparation, equipment etc.The introduction suggests a pre-trip risk assessment, preferably shared with the group of those participating to anticipate any potential problems. The assessment of the potential risk is outlined, as are preventive actions. Also in this section there is an outline of how the risk can be documentated. The following is suggested:
Times: departure, return
Anticipated Numbers:
Numbers of helpers/carers:

Writer& Approver: This section suggests 6 outside events and as in previous sections has preparation equipment etc.

This book can be used as a valuable general resource book. I found it to be very practical, with really useful tips and hints for any carer/leader of an activity programme. Activities need to be varied and interesting, and there are excellent ideas in this book for anyone starting off in the field of activation—they would find it a very useful resource. I feel that those staff who have worked in the area for a number of years would already be familiar with the material in this book. However each activity is very structurally described and it would help in organising an activity session. I would recommend the book to anyone working with adults, either in activity centres or clubs.

ACTIVITIES FOR ADULTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES: HAVING FUN, MEETING NEEDS by Helen Sonnet and Ann Taylor, 2009. Jessica Kinglsey Publishing, 116 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JB. ISBN 978 1 843 10975 4