Glee Club and Wee Glee Club
A story by SupERkids
SupERkids provided two weekly drama, music and dance clubs in East Renfrewshire for young people with additional support needs aged from 5 to 18 and who are unable to access mainstream clubs.
These young people have fun and raise their self esteem while their carers receive some respite.
What Glee Club and Wee Glee Club did
SupERkids provided Glee and Wee Glee clubs in East Renfrewshire. We have had the good fortune in gaining funding for Glee for two years and the experience gained from that has helped with the success of the project in 2015. Glee ran from August 2015 to end March 2016 and culminated in a performance of Jungle Book at the Kilmarnock Palace Theatre. As the community gained more information about Glee carers have proposed that their children attend, many with more complex needs and it was an objective of the club that every young person irrespective of whether they were verbal or non verbal had a spoken part to play in the show (using AAC or eye gaze technology).
The drama group support workers (for care and medical needs) and location remained the same, maintaining the confidence of the young people, which was key to the success of the club. Each week the club ran from 10 to 12.30 with 2 hours of drama and half an hour of youth club. The young people rehearsed for several months after choosing their show and became a close team.
Wee Glee was premiered in 2015 and provided some initial challenges. We had hoped it would run on a Saturday afternoon after Glee, however after the pilot it was clear that the young people attending had more complex needs and a different focus was needed. Consequently Wee Glee was moved to the local ASN school and ran on a Monday evening from 6.15 to 7.45 pm as we could not access the school at the weekend. This worked very well as the children aged 5-10 years as they had the accessible facilities that they knew and were safe and content.
Wee Glee ran form October 2015 to March 2016 and culminated in a sharing event showcasing their weekly performances. For both clubs the carers had time to spend with other family members or had some time to themselves, some went running, others out for dinner and all had a couple of hours respite each week to recharge.
What SupERkids has learnedSupERkids have learned from the 2015 grant for Glee and Wee Glee that close working relationships are the key and that having parents organise the clubs who also have children with additional support needs makes for more focused and personalised approach and outcomes.
Parents with children with complex needs are often concerned about how the children will be treated as acceptance of all types of disability still has some way to go. As the young people are supported by staff who know them and understand their needs, they are happy and their parents content for them to attend. Although this is a huge cost to the project, it allows us to provide this experience to these children who have no other way of gaining it in an accepting environment.
The SupERkids parent committee were invited to events to inform parents of children with additional support needs with information about Glee and Wee Glee which attracted new young people. In addition, SupERkids were awarded the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services and publicity from that, together with meeting the "movers and shakers" of East Renfrewshire including the MP has benefited the Glee and Wee Glee clubs by raising its profile, informing others and recognition in the House of Commons.
We also learned not to underestimate the amount of work need to set up a new club as Wee Glee took a great deal of time and effort which was so worthwhile as the young children loved it. We realised that running a pilot was very important as we were able to source the most suitable providers and location as we were aware of what worked and what did not.