Better Breaks Youth Groups and Activity Camps
A story by The Action Group
We provided monthly youth groups for young people with support needs in the Falkirk area, allowing their parents/carers to have a regular break.
In addition to this we offered two residential activity camps. The young people travelled to an outdoor education centre in Aviemore and took part in a range of adventurous outdoor activities.
What Better Breaks Youth Groups and Activity Camps did
This year we have delivered 11 youth groups and 2 activity camps, working with 19 young people and their families. Youth groups have taken place at Bonnybridge Community Centre and in a wide range of locations in the community. Following the science and technology theme which was picked by the young people we have visited places such as Glasgow Science Centre, taken part in a live science workshop delivered by Think Science, had a go at film making and digital t-shirt printing.
The two activity camps took place at Lagganlia Outdoor Education Centre near Aviemore. Both camps provided lots of challenging activities for the young people which this time included cross country skiing and tree climbing.
We have been able to recruit an additional mentor to join our other youth mentor. We delivered a training session to both mentors and have given ongoing support. Our first mentor who has now been in the role for almost two years has developed immensely providing practical support to the other young people who attend the group and acting as a good role model. She has also planned and delivered a sports session for the other young people.
We have continued to support many of the same young people and families. The young people we work with benefit from the support we provide and are developing socially and emotionally as a result of the increased opportunities and social interaction. Their families caring responsibilities remain high and we are committed to provide ongoing short breaks for them. We have also recruited two new young people to the group. Both have complex needs and are socially isolated.
Carers have used their free time to spend precious one to one time with other family members. Many of our young people come from large families. Over the longer weekend breaks parents often enjoy an evening catching up with friends knowing they will not need to wake up early to administer medication and care for their son/daughter. One parent used the opportunity to have a weekend break with her other son. this was the first time she had spent a night away from her disabled son in 18 years.
I also get the opportunity to have some very precious time to try and regain some sanity and do something just for me. The value of this should not be underestimated! In many respects, Better Breaks has been a godsend!
The Action Group Better Breaks Co-ordinator came and spent some time with T and myself at home. This gave us the confidence we both needed that she would be able to meet his medical needs of a Gastrostomy. The coordinator was amazing and showed a great amount of ability to learn and pick up quickly and with great competent. This was needed both for T and myself in order to gain trust for T's time away. T was very nervous going in the car to meet the others to go to camp to the point he felt very dizzy. All staff were there to meet T and he was won over very quickly with the calm, caring fun loving staff.
T had such a wonderful experience of been away, for the first time in his life he was able to be with friends away from home. To be able to have this kind of club and link with his friends is such a major thing for him. Friendships for non disabled teens are in general, carefree and can often have the experience of meeting up and staying over/away with each other.
My son never got to experience this until he was 18 years old, when he felt close and confident enough in the adults around him from the Better Breaks Saturday Group. He was able to do fun things at his level, out doors sport and even getting up a tall tree! - even though he is frightened of heights. T had such a special time away. He is now ready for the next one. So fantastic to see him so happy in himself and the bonds he has with friends and that goes for the big friends too (staff).
Thanks again all you staff at The Action Group’s Better Breaks xx
What The Action Group has learnedThis funding and the continuity of this has allowed us to build on the relationships made with the young people and their families. We have also had a stable group of staff who have delivered the monthly sessions and the camps, so the young people are relaxed and familiar with the staff.
Consultation with the young people about having a focused theme for the group sessions has allowed us to explore the chosen theme of “science” in a variety of ways, which has kept the sessions fresh and given new interest in a range of different activities. We have also varied the group sessions to include a few more outings that have allowed us to assist the young people in using a variety of public transport as well as walking to some venues when we reached the destinations.
New referrals have come to us via the school at Carrongrange and via the Child Disability Team in Falkirk. One challenge that we will have to think about moving forward is phasing out older members beyond a point where they have left school. We have not rushed to do this as we look at the benefits to each person, their development and maturity etc. However so many people have grown in confidence and their skills, the dilemma is at which point we say they need to move aside to allow younger members to be able to attend.