Glee Club and The Dr Who Film Club
A story by East Renfrewshire Warriors
Glee Club runs weekly on a Saturday with two hours of drama and thirty minutes of a youth club. The young people chose the name of their club and chose to work towards a final performance of Cinderella, with lots of pop songs.
There is a nominal charge to cover snacks and we have an attendance between 25 and 30 young people ages 11 to 17.
Dr Who Club took young people through the process of producing their own mini episode of Dr Who, from script writing to filming and acting.
Tip 1:Where possible always bring in outside companies who have experience of working with young people with additional support needs.
We were very lucky that a teacher at the local special needs school also runs his own drama company so he knew the majority of the young people attending Glee and was very experienced.
Tip 2:Have a contingency budget.
Something unexpected alway crops up and frantically trying to find additional sources of funding when you are already running a busy project is an added stress you don't need. Remember to add in funds for a party or celebration event too.
Tip 3:Network at every possible opportunity.
It is amazing the support that is out there when people know who you are. Enthusiasm is infectious so if you talk about what you are doing with passion and excitement others will be eager to be involved.
Our aim for Dr Who was to offer something totally spectacular, a club the children had never done before. The young people asked for something to do with Dr Who and for film making or animation. We looked around for a film company who could work closely with us to provide the full film making experience. Urban Croft were fantastic with the young people.
The eight week club had them learning many new skills, script writing, film production and scene planning. The level of enthusiasm and ideas were fantastic and the final film is now in production. It will be a lasting memento of what they achieved and the new skills they learned.
Susan has a 15 year old daughter called Alyssa who has a genetic condition and autism. Alyssa had no weekend social opportunities to mix with her peers. She has attended Glee from the beginning and is very social. Susan says that for the first time Alyssa has the normal social life of a teenager. "She comes out, hangs out with her pals, sings One Direction, bit of telly, bit of dancing, it's wonderful. I get to do the shopping, meet my friends for lunch and we've both had a great Saturday."
Ann Marie has an eleven year old daughter called Beth who has Aspergers. Beth attended Dr Who Club. At first it was hard for her to settle but the staff know Beth well and soon she was confident to enter the hall each week.
Anne Marie says, "Beth grew in confidence each week. The staff were so patient with her. She got to meet other girls with Aspergers and it was great for her to feel like one of the crowd instead of always feeling different from everyone else. And I got to do my shopping in peace and have a quiet cup of coffee before picking her up."
We chose our facility spaces carefully opting for two venues both specifically designed for children and young people with additional support needs so they are safe, secure and accessible. We encourage all our young people to be as independent as possible but support them fully in all aspect of their care needs to take part and socialise with their peers. Our first aim for all our clubs is that they are fun.
Sharon has a 13 year old daughter, Emily, with Aspergers who had previously not attended any of our clubs. Emily attended Dr Who Club and was very involved and enthusiastic in all aspects of it. Sharon said, "I can not believe it. I can't believe she wants to come each week. It's totally new to us to hear her so excited about coming out to anything where there are other people. I don't know what you are doing her but please don't stop."
Elaine has a 14 year old son Peter who has autism. Peter attended both Glee and Dr Who. Peter is hugely theatrical and loves anything with a part to play. Elaine says, "He's just loving them both. He's as happy as anything to come every week and if there a part to play he's there, up for it and loving every minute."
Importantly it is very affordable with the charge covering snack, making it to be accessible to everyone. It is ran by full trained, enthusiastic staff who are well known to our Carers meaning it is trusted. This level of trust is what allows Carers to relax and enjoy their respite hours and that is vitally important.
Catarina says about her 12 year old son who attends Dr Who Club, "I just drop him off and leave. No panic, no wondering will he be okay, will he be upset, is he wrecking the place. I go to the shops and I have a cup or coffee and a piece of cake and I read a book and I don't spend my time worrying about my son."
Dylan's Mum, Heather says about her son, "I never have to spend a minute worrying when he's at Dr Who Club. I know he's loving what he's doing and that there are numerous staff members who know just how to handle him, what his triggers are and how to avoid them. I can spend time with my daughter doing the things we can't do when Dylan is there."
Both Dr Who Club and Glee has taught lots of new skills. In Dr Who the young people got to experience different careers, actor, writer, camera man and many others and if they wanted to they could try out more than one.
Glee encourages dancing, expression, singing, acting, movement and so much more. Both clubs have allowed the young people to take charge of their activities and take part in choosing and changing what they do each week.
Lots of new friendships have been formed and lots of new ideas for future clubs. The young people are excited and eager to push the limits of what they previously thought was on offer to them and come up with amazing new ideas for clubs and activities. It has broadened their horizons and shown them that they can dream about seemingly impossible things, like being in Dr Who, and we can help them to make it happen.
Through this Carers and are now seeing their young people doing activities they have never previously considered as an option. There is a lot of wonder and occasionally tears of pride and joy from staff, young people and Carers watching just what is possible with enthusiasm, support and funding.
We also speak very regularly to the staff working with the young people so they can tell us what is working and what would be useful to have or do and we work to incorporate any new ideas quickly. Also our committee is made up of parents and we all expect each club to be nothing less than excellent for our own children and everyone else's.
We regularly receive very positive feedback from Glee and Dr Who. Glee especially because it has ran all year round and provided a weekend respite service to families who previously had none.
The Dr Who script was written by the children and they also chose and planned all the scenes, what equipment they needed for props and what costumes they wanted to wear. The film crew worked with them to incorporate all their ideas and bring togetherness he finished film. Then young people's input was essential to the whole project and although it was led by a professional film company the young people had full ownership over the project.
Our clubs are open to all young people in the area with an additional support need and are advertised through a number of sources to make them as accessible as possible. Because we charge a nominal fee it allows parents from all financial backgrounds to use the service, confident in the knowledge that their young person is accessing a high quality service.
Dr Who taught a wealth of new skills. Script writing helped young people to improve their imagination and story writing skills with so many fantastic ideas and support they worked towards making them fit into one script. They learned about the process of filming. Some chose to work behind the scenes and some to act. They grew in confidence over the weeks and all our Carers commented that their child was desperate for it not to end.
We contacted the local Dr Who Society who were very excited to be involved and brought along a fully working Dalek for the young people to work with.
While gathering our props we linked in with a number of local schools and businesses who loaned equipment for free and were enthusiastic to help. It allowed us to forge many new friendships which has widened our network of local contacts for future projects.
We publicise our clubs by leafleting the local special needs school, the local communication unit and lettering all 180 families on our database. We also speak to parents regularly at local support group meetings and coffee and chat meetings at the school to pass on information to any new families.
All young people who attend our clubs have had an in depth assessment completed by Social Work and our support workers are fully trained on each young persons individual support needs. These assessments are continually under review to adapt with the young persons changing needs.
We have close links with our local special needs school and regularly connect with other local organisations who work with families who have a family member with an additional support need.
On every occasion we have had to contact your office staff have been so helpful and very enthusiastic about our project.
We continually ask Carers and our support staff for their feedback at each session so we can evaluate what we are doing and adapt where necessary.
Our best form of evaluation is the continued praise we receive from Carers and requests to please not let Glee end and to rerun Dr Who. We were also very proud to be asked to input to the local special needs schools SHINARI outcomes because our clubs have become a regular part of young peoples one to one meetings.