Children form part of the steering group of Walking Tall, where their views and experiences are used to guide the project’s development.
Over the years, The Fostering Network have explored a number of innovative programmes to improve outcomes for fostered children and young people, and foster care in general, for example, Head, Heart, Hands, Step Up Step Down and The Mockingbird programme to name a few.
Among these is Walking Tall – a two-year programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund that provides opportunities for primary school aged children, living in fostering households, giving them a voice, enhancing their self-esteem and helping them to ‘walk tall’.
But something else really gives Walking Tall an innovative edge, and that’s its commitment to the values of participation and consultation, demonstrated through the recruitment of young people onto the steering group.
Walking Tall’s Children's Participation Worker, Kirsteen Marshall, speaks enthusiastically about the project’s endeavours and how it aims to enhance the fostering experience for children living in fostering households:
'We aim to consult children on their views and experiences while having fun through dance, drama, and play.
'We currently have 12 volunteers on our steering group, comprising of foster carers, children in foster care, sons and daughters of foster carers and fostering agency staff. There are four children in the group, who bring a real sense of creativity, fun, insight, and energy to the meetings.
'We meet quarterly to discuss all elements of project development. This is facilitated in a child-friendly way and both adults and children enjoy sharing thoughts, ideas, and opinions together.
'The children are always very vocal and happy to share their insights and experiences, which really benefits the project’s development. We discuss everything from where the workshops should be held to what snacks we should have!
'The primary goal of the Walking Tall workshops is to consult the children on their experiences and views of living in a fostering household. The information that they give us will then be used to create child-friendly resources, such as a book or film clip – a resource that will benefit the whole fostering household. The children will be very involved in creating this resource.
'Our next steering group will be held in February next year, and it’s going to be an exciting one! The meeting will be held in the office of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland. We have a lot to discuss and the participants will have the opportunity to test some of the workshop’s methods and activities.'
You can read more about the programme’s aims and how to get involved on the main Walking Tall page here.