A story by Mid Argyll Youth Development Services (MAYDS)
My Time is a project that allowed children and young people with additional support needs respite time via access to specialised weekly dance movement therapy classes. In addition it offered their siblings access to pony club giving them an opportunity for respite.
What My Time! did
Through the My Time Project MAYDS delivered weekly Dance Therapy Classes every Tuesday from 4-5 pm. Theses sessions were delivered by a qualified dance/movement therapist and ran from the MAYDS centre. Those attending these sessions had additional support needs such as Asperger's, ADHD, Dyspraxia etc. and were referred into the sessions via either partner agencies such as school or social work or parents themselves.
The project also offered weekly pony club sessions. Theses sessions were run from Argyll Adventure with thee young people supported by MAYDS staff. Sessions took place on a Sunday from 9 am till 1 pm. Theses sessions were attended by the siblings of those young people with additional support needs.
During the dance movement sessions carers reported enjoying things like going for a walk, reading, shopping etc. In addition parents reported being able to have some quality time with their other children and the children reporting it being nice to have time alone with their parents and having their full attention.
During the duration of the project we were able to train a youth volunteer to support the sessions, this was a young girl about to go to University whom had a brother with Autism therefore had personal experience. Several of our staff also completed the online Understanding Autism Course which gave them a better understanding of working with children with additional needs.
Our project addressed the priority areas of complex needs and diversity, the young people attending sessions had very complex and diverse needs. Some could not communicate at all. Ages ranged from 6 to 15 years some had quite sever behavioural issues due to their condition. We also addressed sports and active leisure via the kind of activities we were delivering dance and pony club.
Also we addressed independence as for the first time these young people had access to an activity independent from their parents carers. Also were they were in an environment that promoted them to be more independent. Having a dedicated group for these young people was a huge success.
Yes the project went to plan.
What Mid Argyll Youth Development Services (MAYDS) has learned
We have learned that a dedicated group for people with additional support needs is vital in order to give them an outlet and their parents and siblings consistent respite. On reflection we now also learned that the group will benefit more from varied activities rather than just dance. It is not so much the therapy they need but the access to the supported activities and socialisation.
How Mid Argyll Youth Development Services (MAYDS) has benefitted from the funding
The organisation has benefited by allowing us to address the needs of young people and their families that we would not usually engage with. It has allowed us to pilot an new service which was proven to be much needed and successful, a project which will now be part of regular timetable with a few variations (i.e., not solely dance). Having been funded for this pilot and having the evaluation and evidence it has allowed us to secure funding to continue a weekly social club for those with additional support needs via Awards for All. The program has allowed our staff to further train and get experience in working with those with additional support needs.
Children and young people with disabilities will be participating in regular, supported activities.
Via this project children and young people with additional support needs had access to a social outlets not otherwise available to them. It was in a supported environment tailored to their needs and allowed them to participate in activities other young people can readily do. It helped increase their social networks and widen their opportunities for extra curricular activities while getting time away from siblings etc.
One of our young people is 15 years old and has never attended any extra curricular activities due to her needs. Prior to the group she would spend every evening with her family. This project has allowed her to get time away from home and participate in out of school activities her peers can regularly access. She loves coming to the club and her parents say she feels safe and supported. She has been able to meet new people and her parents are delighted in her eventually having an outlet to access.
Carers of Children and Young people with disabilities will have regular consistent 'My Time'.
This was fully met. Parents whom did not usually have any time away from their children now had regular, consistent time out either to relax, catch up on chores or spend quality time with their other children. Siblings had respite away on a regular basis via pony club.
One of the parents had a child with significant additional support needs, amongst other things he could not communicate and had pica. Her only time away from him was when he was at school and she found it extremely difficult to spend time with her younger daughter. She had approached us previously for support but at that time we had nothing on offer. Since coming to the Tuesday group this mother has reported feeling more positive and able to cope. Not only does she enjoy seeing her son being able able to attend a group and have fun and socialise she also now has consistent respite time which she spends with her younger daughter.
Carers will feel better supported, build better networks and have increased knowledge of services available locally.
Carers reported increased self-esteem and well being and felt more able to carry out their caring roles. They felt supported by MAYDS staff who were able to give them advice and signposting and were not worried about leaving their children as they knew the staff were well trained etc. They built up support networks with the other parents whose children were attending. Having regular consistent respite was important to them.