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What is First Opportunities?

First Opportunities is a charity for children aged between 0 - 4 with additional needs offering vital therapy and respite to children and their families through an educational play environment. The group was set up in 1974 when there was no support for preschool children with special educational needs.  Over the last 45 years we have offered therapy and support to over 1,500 children and their families, provided over 24,300 hours of therapy.


First Opportunities is based at Ashley Junior School, New Milton and has a catchment area covering the New Forest, Highlife and Christchurch.


The Benefits of the Group

Structured group play builds social confidence and challenges the child. Playing alongside children with similar problems encourages them to achieve more together.
Parents benefit from the mutual support of each other which can help contribute to a more relaxed home life.


Our History

In 1974 Joan Turnbull, a local children's social worker, and a group of friends formed First Opportunities to provide respite care for children with special needs. Since then, the group has developed into a skilled professional team of key-workers providing therapeutic guided play to over 1,000 children.

How We Help

Each child is assessed at entry. An individual play programme is made. Periodic assessments lead to programme revisions to achieve the best outcomes. Play stimulates a child's physical and learning development and improves concentration in a happy, caring and fun filled environment.

Who We Help

Our key-workers help children with wide-ranging physical and learning difficulties. These may be severe and complex.
Over the years, we have helped children with various conditions such as:
● Cerebral Palsy
● Autism
● Down's Syndrome
● And conditions which delay the essentials of communication.

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