A story by RNIB
We provided a 1 week activity break for 11-14 year olds and two residential weekends for 15-18 year old with vision impairment to promote their independence and allow respite for parents/carers. We provided family days across the country offering peer support and a break from the normal routine.
What Activate did
RNIB ran an Activity Camp at Broomlee Outdoor Centre for young people aged 11-14 years. The week was a great success with a programme covering a wide range of activities. These activities ranged from Raft Building to Hill walking, campfire to Judo, tree and pole climbing to salsa dancing and archery to yoga. It was great to see the young people develop in confidence and independence over the week.
Two transition weekends were provided for 15–18 year old's to promote independence and develop self-confidence. These were run in partnership with the Royal Blind School, one held in Perthshire at Ardoenaig Outdoor Centre and at the Braid Hills Hotel and Royal Blind School in Edinburgh. 19 young people took part in a range of activities including mobility, cooking, mindfulness, sailing, team building and ten pin bowling.
Four Family Taster Days were run across Scotland in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen including one for those with complex additional support needs. These brought families together to try new activities including para bowling, Judo, arts and crafts, face painting, planetarium show, gardening workshop, mindfulness, goal ball and new technology.
The parents had an opportunity to network with each other and join in discussion around RNIB services, learn about the work of the Commissionaire for children and young people and learn about The Visual Impairment Network for Children and Young People. Participants were identified through links with statutory education services, RNIB mailing lists and local societies supporting children and young people with vision impairment. Parents reported having holidays, time with their other children, hill walking and time to themselves. The combination of events run for this project has addressed all the priority area for Better Breaks.
What RNIB has learned
These opportunities help towards combating the feeling of social isolation often reported by children and young people with sight loss. We have learned that these events provide huge benefits to siblings of children and young people with disabilities.
Transitions weekends have shown there is a real need to support young people with disabilities as they leave school and move into adulthood.
This funding has allowed RNIB, who work with children and young people throughout Scotland, to organise and run a variety of events to bring together children, young people and their families. It has allowed them to benefit from a change of routine and gain form peer support.
A very successful family day was held for children and young people with complex additional support needs. This provided the opportunity for disabled children and young people to try new fun, stimulating and rewarding activities together with their families.
Families have reported that it can often be difficult to access new activities. During this event children and young people with complex additional support needs and their parents/carers took part in sensory music and storytelling sessions. This provided the children and young people the chance to try new activities and provided the carers with ideas they could develop further at home. One parent commented that their child “was totally engaged with the music, loving it”.
Carers of disabled children and young people (and the young people they care for) will have improved well being.
Incorporating Mindfulness into many of the events provided very positive feedback from both carers and young people.
During events children and young people including those with complex additional support needs and their parents/carers took part in a Mindfulness session. This involved learning relaxation techniques and being in the moment through becoming aware of your breathing and focusing fully on the activity through different senses. Feedback from the parents was very positive from a personal point of view with many stating they felt more relaxed and more energised afterwards. They also reported that it was great to see their child become calmer and more relaxed during the session. Carers and young people stated that they would continue to use mindfulness on a regular basis.
Carers will feel more supported to sustain their caring role.
The summer camp and transitions weekends gave carers the opportunity to do what they wanted for the week/weekend allowing them to return to their caring role refreshed.
The carers of a young woman with vision impairment and epilepsy spent weekends at home or doing things which she was interested in and had little time to pursue their own interests. When their daughter attended a transitions weekend it provided them the opportunity to have a weekend away hill walking, visiting historic sites and dining out. They quoted, “She had a great time and we so enjoyed having time to do what we enjoy and the weather was great too”.
There will be more opportunities and choices available for disabled children, young people and their families, including better access to mainstream activities and leisure resources.
Allowing children and young people to try new activities and providing information about opportunities to continue these activities in their local area through signposting to local clubs and groups helped achieve this outcome.
Jake a young person with vision impairment who lacked confidence to do anything in his local community, tried Judo at one event and picked up the basic skills very quickly. The coach from Judo Scotland realised that Jake was very enthusiastic and keen to learn more. He provide the young person with details of a Judo club in his area and contacted the local coach with advise about how best to include a young person with vision impairment in his group. This was followed up with parents following the event and allowed Jake to access a mainstream club in his home area.
Through sharing learning and practice, there will be better understanding of the role of short breaks in supporting caring relationships, and better understanding of the short break needs of disabled children, young people and their carers.
The events run for this project have allowed children, young people and their carers to benefit from peer support, sharing experiences and learning from each other. Carers also had the opportunity to participate in activities with their disabled child and siblings encouraging positive family interaction.
“Really enjoy these events, getting the kids together and mixing, talking and sharing their experiences. Really helps them as well as the parents. Gary missed the summer camp this year but really benefitted from the previous one through gaining confidence to speak out and also try new things.” “It is very helpful and great to spend time with other families who understand your ups and downs with your child/young adult.” “We really enjoyed Bruce Adamson (Children’s Commissionaire) and his team’s speech and found this very beneficial for James” These quotes from carers demonstrate the benefits of sharing learning and practice at events through peer support and informative sessions on relevant topics.