DASH Club Summer Programme
A story by The DASH Club
A summer holiday programme for young people (aged 11 to 18) in Glasgow with complex support needs. We provided a choice of activities and trips: enabling the young people to have fun and socialise, whilst their parents/carers had a break
What DASH Club Summer Programme did
We delivered a holiday programme over the summer break: 9 full days at the start of the holidays, and then 4 half-days spread throughout the rest of the summer. The programme addressed the Better Breaks priorities P1-P5, and in particular Complex Needs, and Sports & Active Leisure. The programme was based at Broomlea Primary School in Possilpark. Participants were all young people (age 11 to 18) with complex support needs from Ashton School. We offered places on the programme to members of the DASH After-School Club and were able to accommodate all requests. We used our core DASH staff to run the programme but also brought on some additional support from a bank of temporary staff who we know & trust. All the young people were picked up & dropped off using our own minibus, and minibuses hired from NATA and Community Central Halls.
We alternated between “base” days and outings. Activities at base included dance, inclusive sports & aromatherapy - using a mix of in-house & external facilitators. We partnered with Project Ability who ran a series of accessible art workshops using different technique (eg, sculpture, printing) that the young people could easily use to produce pieces of art. We also took small groups of young people to parks (Drumpellier, Mugdock) on the base days as whilst all of the young people found something to engage them at the base, not all of them wanted to be there all day. This was a change to how we usually run the programme, and it worked well.
The five days of outings took in canoeing/adapted bikes at Castle Semple, kayaking at Pinkston Water-sports, swimming in Gourock Outdoor Pool, den building at Finlaystone Country Park, Five Sisters' Zoo, Pollok Park and a "Meet the Alpacas" experience. Finlaystone Park was a new venue for us, and the Alpacas was another first. The young people particularly enjoyed the den building. The four half day outings were to: Strathclyde Country Park, Summerlee, the cinema, and Hamilton Water Park.
The carers & families of our young people enjoyed the respite afforded by the programme, using the time to see friends and family, undertake household projects, and just relaxing and having headspace.
What The DASH Club has learned
That we need to be flexible if we're to meet the needs of all our young people - changing plans, even at the last minute, if we feel that it will provide a better experience for the young people. That bringing in a partner (such as Project Ability) to deliver a mini project within the programme can enhance our overall provision. It's always worth trying something new, even if the activity isn't 100% successful the first time.
How The DASH Club has benefitted from the funding
We reconnected with Project Ability, who we've worked with in the past, but not for over 7 years. Following on from the art project they delivered during the summer programme we're now hoping to develop the partnership further with another art project. The success of the half-day outings led us to run a short run of Sunday outings, and we'd like to find funding to make weekend outings a regular service.
Young people with complex support needs will have taken part in a variety of fun, stimulating activities over the Spring and Summer break. They will have developed friendships, and will be more confident/motivated to join in the activities that form our core term-time programme.
The outcome was fully achieved. The young people all took part in a wide range of activities and had a lot fun. Whilst we did different things each day, there was a familiar structure to each day (eg. starting from the base,"play-time" at the end of the day) which enabled the young people to relax. Familiarity with our staff, and the staff's already established relationships with the young people was another key factor in the young people being able to fully enjoy the activities. The activities were very sociable with plenty of opportunities for interacting with one another and developing new (and old) friendships, and we've seen those friendships continue at our afterschool club. Whilst we always try to introduce new activities to our holiday programmes, we know that our young people enjoy repeating favourite activities from past programmes for example kayaking, Gourock Open Air Pool, and Five Sister's Zoo.
H. is 17 and has Rett Syndrome. She’s very sociable and is happy as long as she’s around other people and is being entertained. Rett Syndrome is a degenerative condition which has affected H’s muscles and consequently her fine motor movements, to the extent that she has minimal mobility in her hands. As a result, H can’t play or entertain herself independently as she can’t manipulate objects, press buttons etc – her body just doesn’t work as it should. H therefore relies on social interaction for engagement and becomes very agitated if she can’t go out to do things or be with friends. During the school holidays it can be very exhausting for H’s family to keep her occupied. H. loves swimming, and it’s one of the few physical activities that she can enjoy. Her mother will therefore take her swimming several times a week even though it takes up a lot of time and is very tiring; Keeping H happy at home leaves little space for her carers to address their own interests and needs. H. loves the DASH Club – she’s surrounded by her friends and there’s always lots going on that even if she can’t join in with, she enjoys watching. The Summer Programme keeps H. occupied, and when she goes home after a busy day, she has less of a need for attention and entertainment. For her mother, the programme offers a chance to relax, and to do things that aren’t possible when H. is at home: eg spending time with other family members, seeing friends etc.
Carers will have been able to spend time over the Summer holidays with friends and families - engaging in activities that they aren’t usually able to access in their caring role.
The project outcome was fully achieved as the programme provided a total of 1,070 hours of respite to the carers of the young people enabling them to take part in activities both in and out of the home that they wouldn't otherwise be able to do. We picked up and dropped of the young people each day and provided extra respite time for the carers. Parents and carers reported that they spent the time completing household chores, spending time with other family & friends, taking part in activities that they wouldn't otherwise be able to access, working extra hours and enjoying "down-time.
P is 17 and has autism with learning difficulties. He enjoys being around people, and loves music and singing. However, he struggles without a routine and so the school holidays can be very challenging. As P has no concept of time, it’s not possible to explain that he has X no of weeks/days before school restarts. With no routine P can become very anxious which is expressed by pacing round the house and being noisy. This disturbs his younger brother, and his mother, who works part-time from home, can’t fully concentrate on her work as she has to take time to calm P, and is always listening out in case she’s needed. When P. was at the DASH summer programme, it enabled his parents to spend quality time with his brother. As P was picked up at around 9am and not dropped home until around 4pm, there was plenty of time to go hillwalking (something P doesn’t enjoy). The Sunday outings also gave enough time for the rest of the family to do things they wouldn’t usually do. P’s brother is at the age where he’s starting to go out independently with friends, but also still needs/wants to do some activities with his parents as well. Both the summer programme and the Sunday outings helped P to have some structure to the holidays, and the opportunity to expend energy and have fun meant he was calmer at home.
The young people will have improved well-being from having a structured, fun programme of activities during the holiday period. Carers will have had a chance to relax, and spend time focusing on themselves and their other family members.
This outcome was fully achieved. The young people were very relaxed at the holiday club, they knew the staff and each other well, they were familiar with the routines, and felt safe and supported, they were able to "be themselves" and fully participate in the activities. Our staff were very good at creating a positive energy and ensuring that all the activities were fun for everyone. Well-being benefits reported by parents in relation to their child included being happier (top response), sleeping better, feeling less isolated, and being less frustrated. For the carers, the respite provided by the project enabled them to fully relax, visit people, and complete household tasks ("I was able to gut the house, which is impossible when K is home"). The "top" well-being benefit reported by carers was that they were able to spend more time with other family members, followed by being able to see friends, and having "down time".
P is 17 and has autism with learning difficulties. He enjoys being around people, and loves music/singing. However, he struggles without a routine and so the school holidays can be very challenging. As P has no concept of time, it’s not possible to explain that he has X no of weeks/days before school restarts. With no routine P can become very anxious which is expressed by pacing round the house and being noisy. This disturbs his younger brother, and his mother who works part-time from home can’t fully concentrate on her work as she has to take time to calm P, and is always listening out in case she’s needed. When P. was at the DASH summer programme, it enabled his parents to spend quality time with his brother. As P was picked up at around 9am and not dropped home until around 4pm, there was plenty of time to go hillwalking (something P doesn’t enjoy). The Sunday outings also gave enough time for the rest of the family to do things they wouldn’t usually do. P’s brother is at the age where he’s starting to go out independently with friends, but also still needs/wants to do some activities with his parents as well. Both the summer programme and the Sunday outings helped P to have some structure to the holidays, and the opportunity to expend energy and have fun meant he was calmer at home.
Additional project outcome
Carers accessing new/different activities with the young people.
We know that for the carers and families of our young people that it can be hard to access activities that the whole family can enjoy. As part of the project we included a daily diary for each young person that detailed the activities they took part in. We also put up photos and videos of each day's activities on Facebook giving information on the various venues we visited. This year parents reported knowing what their child had achieved during the summer programme gave them the confidence to go out as a family. Activities parents said they would try were: "Meet the Alpacas", Den building, and visiting Five Sister's zoo.