Action Group Weekend Social Groups
A story by The Action Group
We provided monthly social group for young people with support needs living in the Falkirk area, and twice a year we provide weekend activity camps full of fun and adventure. This provided regular respite support for families
We tried to provide a variety of activities to suit all needs and abilities whilst trying out new things too.
What Action Group Weekend Social Groups did
Our project is run by a part time coordinator who uses this time (7.8 hrs per week) to consult with the young people and their families, liaising with them regarding attending the group and coordinating the chosen activities each month as well as the two adventure camp weekends away in October and February. We have regular Sessional staff that provide the support for the monthly groups and during weekends away. We have had some group members who have previously attended the group and some new members recruited through Carrongrange School and others who have been referred through Social Work Services.
We have provided 12 monthly sessions and two weekend camps. We have focused on “Looking Outward”, both beyond the physical base at Bonnybridge Centre to make use of the wider activities happening in the community and looking for new experiences and events that some of the young people had never experienced before. For example we were gifted tickets for a roller derby by Auld Reekie Roller Girls in Edinburgh. The group travelled by train and bus to the game, this was the first time that most group members had seen this fast playing sport, enjoying the experience, noise and excitement of the team winning.
We provided a variety of physical activities such as laughter yoga and a games day where the young people used there five senses taste ,feel, smell, sight and sound to navigate range of games; this was a much enjoyed fun filled experience involving collaboration and team work. Other activities and outing were, visits to places of historical interest such as Linlithgow Palace and Callander House, bowling, cinema, a flower painting demo and tuition on painting flowers, cake decorating and tuition on this. Tie-dying their own T-Shirts, trip to the Panto, a visit to the Highland Show, animal encounter session.
With information from support needs from parents and carers, the staff assess who needs help and who doesn’t and there is lots of fun and laughter in the process of putting on sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers. Skill building around everyday tasks such as their self care, dressing, preparation for mealtime, taking responsibility for washing cups, cutlery etc and tidying up, filling and emptying the dishwasher, taking bins and recycling out is all part of the weekend away experience.
For one young person his parent commented when hearing about how well he had participated and done things to help out with the shared tasks that they would certainly be involving them more in a few chores around the house, starting with keeping his bedroom clean and changing his bed.
The coordinator took on board his preferences, made specific food purchases for this young person and kept thing separate in order that the food he liked was available at meal times. The staff at camp reassured him they had food available he liked and he even managed to spend most meal times with the group for the majority of the time, this was a big step for him which he adapted to without any issue, he was also able to have other “private” time away from others to eat things like his favourite snacks and treats.
In addition because he had spent more time with the others at meal times, he did venture for something “different” one morning for breakfast and had a cooked roll on sausage rather than his usual branded cereal. His mum was pleased that the weekend had went so well and was surprised that he had chosen to try a couple of new things that he previously had not eaten at home, she found this really reassuring that her autistic son could adapt and accept some degree of change without it being a major problem.
They each took turns of working as a team alongside the instructors to hold the weight of the person in the harness and help lever them up the different stages. Each person set their own goal for where they wanted to climb to. There was a great buzz of encouragement and praise for each person as they tried it and a great sense of achievement for the individuals too. The more daring people went further up the tree and one young person managed to go all the way to the top and here is his quote: "At the camp we went tree climbing, I was very excited as I love climbing. Everyone else was a bit scared, so I was really happy to volunteer to go first. I wanted to “go for it”.
I climbed all the way (with all the climbing harness gear on) to the top of the tree and rang the bell. The height of the tree didn’t bother me at all. I thought I would want to shut my eyes on the way down, but everyone started cheering because I had rang the bell, and this made me feel really proud! I was really chuffed with myself and had a big grin on my face when I got down".
What The Action Group has learnedThe funding allowed us to have some continuity with the young people and their families as they transition in the final years at school and into college. It allowed them to have experiences in their lives that may not have been offered to them from elsewhere either within their school, social services or families. It allowed the staff (a core group who have stayed with the project over the years) to build and maintain relationships with the young people as they mature, particularly when the young people attend camp, there are opportunities for so much more independence and self determination, choice and development.
We listened and involved the young people in the choices of things they want to do, we do this in a person centred way for each individual depending on their support needs. We encouraged newer participants and their families to join the group by engaging with younger groups of pupils at Carrongrange school, we also have taken personal referrals and referral from social work.