Social Clubs for Young Adults with Challenging Behaviour
A story by Orcadia Creative Learning Centre
We provided social activities for 3 hours every Wednesday evening and 5 hours on a weekend once a month for 25 young adults with learning difficulties, disabilities and/or challenging behaviour, while their carers had some much needed time for themselves.
What Social Clubs for Young Adults with Challenging Behaviour did
This project is a continuation of existing work which has evolved and developed. We see ourselves as facilitators for the young people, enabling them to do the things they want to do with their friends without having their parents or carers around to 'watch over them'.
The young adults who attend have additional support needs (not personal care needs) and some have challenging behaviour which makes it difficult for them to attend other groups. For their parents and carers, many of whom are older and some have their own health issues having a regular weekly break has been important for maintaining their own health and quality of life. The weekend and monthly activities have provided welcome respite where parents and carers have been able to do things we all take for granted, like going for a meal, to the cinema, shopping or simply relax.
25 young adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour have participated in a varied weekly programme (6-9pm) of activities based in the Centre including pamper/games night, fact finding, pub quiz, Halloween disco, fireworks night, film making, Christmas party, New Year party, Burns night, healthy eating and fitness, art night, Zumba, Masterchef, battle of the bands, Strictly Come Dancing. Club members also enjoyed monthly outings that included visits to the Arcades, spring nature trail, games at the park, and Musselburgh Old Course Golf Club.
Every three months club members met to make suggestions and discuss what activities they would like to do, this information was drawn up into a programme which was circulated to club members and parents/carers.
The introduction of the weekend activities has been a huge success with outings to the cinema, panto, Doodles ceramics, ten pin bowling, snooker/pool, dinner, Camera Obscura, Edinburgh Zoo, Our Dynamic Earth, a Festival Fringe show and a summer outing to North Berwick. Feedback from the young adults and their parents/carers has been extremely positive, the young adults are enthusiastic when planning their activities and their parents/carers are enjoying being able to plan their 'time off'.
Now however he is becoming much more confident and has a few people he sits next to, and when he arrives others are asking how he is doing and giving him high fives. In the last few weeks in particular we have seen a big difference in Steven, he has now integrated well and has been giving ‘good news’ at the end of the night, standing and talking in front of the whole group.
Emma has been very isolated, not socialising and has very few friends. She would lay in bed until 1pm in the day and spend most of her time on the computer or gaming.
Club night has had a huge impact on her life, she has made new friends and looks forward to meeting up every week with them. She takes part in all the activities and especially enjoys art nights. She has gained in confidence and self esteem and often meets up with her friends to go to the cinema or bowling. Emma’s parents now go out for a meal just the two of them on most club nights, something they haven’t been able to do in a long long time.
What Orcadia Creative Learning Centre has learnedAttending organised activities at Orcadia has provided young adults with a safe supportive environment and community which has hugely enhanced their quality of life. Taking part in creative activities has improved mental wellbeing and has proven to be an excellent way to express emotion, something that can be challenge among the young adults given their communication issues. The social activities have allowed the young adults to make friends and relax in an environment where their communication issues present less of a barrier, being understood by their peers has helped reduce isolation and boost long term confidence.
The young adults individual needs require that they are looked after almost constantly. Their carers are often family members or close friends that do an extraordinary amount of work to ensure their loved ones can flourish. There comes a point, however, when one person simply cannot provide all that they would like, especially when it comes to allowing them to socialise and spend time doing fun activities away from home.
The young adults are varied in their specific needs but are alike in that they have limited opportunities to engage in activities away from their families/carers like any other person would normally do. Despite their learning difficulties, behavioural difficulties, disabilities and/or additional support needs, this marginalised and vulnerable group needs opportunities that the rest of us have to socialise and grow together with their peers. The young adults often have difficulties participating using traditional methods so it is our role to provide specialised techniques and teaching styles that involve all to the highest degree possible.