The National Lottery makes amazing things happen, but did you know it can fly you to the moon and transport you through time to magical places?
Just ask volunteer and mum of two Boatemaa Ofori-Frimpong, who is about to invite us into an enchanted world of imaginative play, connection and fun otherwise known as Licketyspit….
A place of belonging
National Lottery funded Licketyspit is a specialist early years theatre company which fires children’s imaginations through inter-generational play. For Ghana-born Boatemaa, who moved to Glasgow to study, it’s also a place of belonging:
“With no immediate family around, Licketyspit has been like my extended family”, says Boatemaa. “I have met so many friends and as a migrant mum I have found lots of things in common with the other families. I will never forget that first warm welcome. It’s the reason we and so many other families keep coming back.”
Licketyspit received £150,000 of National Lottery funding for its drama-led Porridge & Play sessions. Before the pandemic, sessions began with families from diverse backgrounds sitting down together to share a healthy breakfast or lunch. “Eating together is a lovely part of the session”, says Boatemaa who takes along son Emmanuel, 10, and daughter Gabby, 4. “It’s like having a big family feast and then we get to play which is the really fun bit.”
A word of limitless possibilities
So, what does a session at Licketyspit look like? “That’s the beauty”, says Boatemaa. “Every session is different but each one makes you feel alive.
“There is always a lot of laughter, encouragement and positive energy in the room. It fascinates me how a group of adults and children from different backgrounds can come together in a hall in Glasgow, start with a simple object, and through the power of our imagination end up sitting together on a mountain feeling on top of the world!”
Licketyspit’s specially trained actor-pedagogues lead each session full of games, songs and stories. “The leaders are the reason why my children feel comfortable and want to contribute so much”, smiles Boatemaa. “They encourage children to come out of their shell, to share their ideas and to talk about their feelings.
“They also remind me as a parent that it’s okay to let go and to be a child again, and Emmanuel and Gabby feed off of that too.”
Families connecting and playing together at home
One of the many strengths of Licketyspit is how it supports positive, playful relationships within families.
“Licketyspit has influenced my parenting a home”, says Boatemaa. “They don’t just play with us and that’s the end. Gabby and I can be making a cake together in the house and start singing Licketyspit songs or be walking down the road giggling while pretending to be as big as a bear. There is something that connects us.”
Despite the recent restrictions, Licketyspit has still found a way to support families throughout the pandemic.
“The Zoom sessions have been fantastic”, says Boatemaa. “From our own living room we can safely go off on wonderful adventures with families from other parts of Glasgow. Emmanuel has always loved to express himself and he enjoys seeing his creations come to life on screen. Gabby too has really come out of her shell. It’s wonderful to see them socialising, learning and growing in confidence.”
The power of volunteering
Two years after that first warm welcome, Boatemaa became a Licketyspit volunteer supporting the actor-pedagogues at the Big Porridge & Play sessions.
“Being able to contribute to a session is very rewarding”, reflects Boatemaa. “I get to lead some of the games and share my thoughts on how to improve future sessions. I also enjoy welcoming new families to a session and seeing the planning behind the scenes.
“Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do and I am so lucky to be able to do something that I love as part of the Licketyspit family.”
To find out more about the work of Licketyspit visit their website.