Nine-year-old Keira Scott doesn’t live with her biological parents – but to her, kinship parents Gemma Johnsen and Andrew Scott are just Mum and Dad.
And as she heads onto the ice with little sisters Ava-Rose, 5, and Kady, 3, it’s clear the sisters have a tight bond – even if they aren’t directly bound by blood.
Keira was brought into the fold by Gemma and Andrew around five years ago when they became her kinship carers – an arrangement where relatives or family friends take children into their care in the event their biological parents are unable to look after them.
For mum Gemma, 31, the relationship is the same as with her biological children – Keira is just part of the family, no labels attached.
“It was a big thing to take on that responsibility but Keira is absolutely thriving. She’s so resilient,” she said.
“She’s totally aware of everything and knows what we’re talking about – she’s knows she didn’t grow in my tummy.
“If she’s got questions we will answer them, and I love her as if she were my own. I call her my daughter and I talk about her as my daughter.
“She’s not my ‘kinship daughter’ or anything like that. It’s not nice to have those labels.”
Keira and her family, from Kirkton, are among scores of people are set to enjoy several days of free activities this week to mark Kinship Carers Week, laid on by Leisure and Culture Dundee.
LACD has laid on an assortment of activities for kinship families from ice-skating for little ones to outdoor activities at Baxter Park and a whole day of fun at Camperdown Wildlife Centre.
Year-round, the local body works with Dundee City Council to handle referrals of kinship families into its Family Active scheme, which grants discounted access to Leisure and Culture attractions.
Its Activate programme gives Keira discounted access to swimming pools if she’s going with friends. When she’s older, it will also work for the city’s gyms.
And since welcoming Keira into the family just over five years ago Gemma has seen her daughter grow into a happy and confident young girl – and having easy access to activities has played no small part in that.
She added: “Family Active has been a godsend. We like to swim as a family in particular and we absolutely could not afford to swim as regularly as we do without it.
“It’s given us the confidence to do things out and about as a family, beyond just doing things like arts and crafts at home.
“I’m so glad I took Keira on – we’ve helped to make her who she is. It’s great to see her thriving now and you can’t imagine her not being there.
“She’s just slotted into the family perfectly.”
Lynn Allardice, active communities officer with Leisure and Culture Dundee, believes the schemes give children – many of whom have difficult childhoods prior to being rehomed – the chance to have steadier, happier times with their kinship families.
“It may be the case that some kids have never been swimming with their family in their lives and as well as the benefits of physical activity there’s the bonding that can happen in that too,” she said.
“It’s about fun and generally just having the time to be a kid.”
Kinship families interested in booking places for any of the activities can book by calling 01382 432 259 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.leisureandculturedundee.com/support-kinship-carers-week to view the full list.