A story by Enable
A school holiday club that provides specialist support, play and learning opportunities to young people with a disability, whilst providing short respite time to parents/carers. Young people are encouraged to participate, have fun and engage with peers whilst achieving their individual outcomes.
What PALS FUNSHINE did
PALS FUNSHINE is a school holiday club that provides children with the opportunity to play, engage with others and achieve outcomes whilst giving their parents and/or carers respite time. The club took place during Easter, Summer and October school holiday periods. The club runs 9am to 3pm from our building base at Dalmuir Community Education Centre. Many of the young people attend PALS afterschool club. Others have been identified by working in partnership with West Dunbartonshire Council children with disabilities team co-ordinator who has helped us reach out to families who are looking for help during school holidays. We also have self-referrals who hear of the club from a variety of different sources. Whilst children were supported, carers used the time to engage in activities for themselves, exercise, spend time with other family members or carry out essential everyday duties. The respite time afforded by the young people attending PALS FUNSHINE helps to sustain parents/carers in their caring roles. Carers report that they could have reached points of crisis if it had not been for our support.
Our young people benefit from attending too as it gives them structure and routine in the school holidays and opportunities to spend time away from their parents/carers and have fun interacting with peers.
We were able to address Better Breaks priorities 1 to 4 through the delivery of the club. We have received a lot of positive feedback about the difference PALS FUNSHINE has made to the families we have supported.
We have experienced some difficulties in the latter year with our building base however we are currently working through those to ensure that our club continues for the young people.
Particular highlights this year include bringing new young people together by creating opportunities for our PALS FUNSHINE young people to build friendships with the young people at our sister club RASCALS FUNSHINE.
What Enable has learned
1. Targeting families most in need of support
Through engagement with the families at our after school club we were able to determine which families could benefit most from school holiday provision. Feedback has evidenced what a lifeline this support has been for the families.
2. Developing new short breaks activities
Our team is experienced and skilled in working with our young people and being able to read individual needs, especially in new settings. This is key to the type of new activities we develop. Through the development of ‘Themed Day Activities’ we were able to provide multiple fun, entertaining, and challenging experiences. In addition to the activity days, we created several opportunities for the young people to come together and play with the young people from our sister club RASCALS FUNSHINE. This gave the opportunity to interact with new peers and build new friendships. The young people from both of these clubs benefitted from this experience.
3. Dealing with unexpected challenges or opportunities
This year we have met some challenges with the upkeep of our building base. We enlisted the services of our Health & Safety team to carry out a full inspection of the property from which an action plan has been created that we are currently working through in order to best meet the environmental needs of our young people.
How Enable has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has allowed us to continue delivering PALS FUNSHINE to young people and their families across the West Dunbartonshire area. Activities have developed with ongoing feedback from young people and families and meet the distinctive needs of each individual young person. We continue to have strong links with the local schools and social work department to ensure the service is known to any prospective new referrals. Word of mouth continues to prove a positive source of feedback and ongoing referral enquiries. With a new year of funding ahead we are planning how to build on the success of PALS FUNSHINE and develop the service further for the benefit of the young people and families who access it.
16 young people will be supported to take part in our FUNSHINE holiday club, during which we will have seen evidence that they have enjoyed participating in a varied activity programme where they have built relationships with peers.
This outcome has been achieved. The young people who attended have enjoyed the varied programme of activities adapted to meet their needs. All activities were designed to promote peer interaction, learning, and fun. Examples of activities chosen by our young people include: April – Easter themed and seasonal arts and crafts, games and activities. Summer – Themed days such as a drive-in day, sports day, minions day, superhero day, and bike experience day. As well as activities with our sister club RASCALS FUNSHINE to promote new friendships and interactions. October - Halloween and autumn themed play including arts and crafts, group games and themed dances involving crawling like spiders, flying like bats, rolling like pumpkins. The young people enjoyed making themselves look like different creatures and taking part in fun activities together, encouraging each other and helping each other when needed. All progress and outcomes have been captured in daily recordings and pictures.
UP is a young person, who is 8 yrs old and non-verbal. Prior to the October FUNSHINE holiday club UP attended our after school club and would rarely socialise with the other children, preferring to play on his own. At FUNSHINE UP was encouraged to join in the group games which included Halloween and autumn arts and crafts activities, group games and dances. UP and the other young people made a tree wall freeze out of their hand prints and worked together to stick these on and create a beautiful display. They also made and decorated ghosts and jack o’lantern decorations which they decorated the centre with. Games included using a parachute with leaves on top and trying to keep the leaves on the parachute, which involved everyone working together to stop the leaves from falling off. Then swinging the parachute to throw the leaves into the air and watch the leaves float to the ground. The young people loved this game and there was much laughter as they tried to catch the leaves. UP was initially resistant however when he watched the parachute game, he seemed to enjoy seeing the fun the other young people were having and watching the leaves floating up and down. With some encouragement UP joined in the games which he loved as he had a huge smile on his face and laughed throughout. UP then slowly progressed to joining the other young people at the arts and crafts activities and although he could not communicate verbally he would use hand gestures to get the attention of the other young people and staff to show them what he was making. This was a key breakthrough for his development in interacting with peers. Following on from FUNSHINE UP has continued to develop relationships with the other young people and although he sometimes still prefers his own company, he now socialises and participates in group activities a lot more frequently.
27 parents/carers will have had the respite time afforded by their young person attending FUNSHINE, during which they will have enjoyed life outside of their caring role.
Due to the additional needs of the young people who attend FUNSHINE, many families struggle to find time for themselves or the siblings of our young people and everyday tasks can become a struggle due to the additional supervision our young people need. Knowing that their young people are safe and enjoying themselves at FUNSHINE allows our families to participate in a range of activities that they otherwise would be unable to do. This includes being able to attend employment, arranging activities for their other children, dealing with other caring responsibilities and household tasks or having time to themselves to take part in an activity or hobby they enjoy and to recharge themselves. All of our parents and carers reported that FUNSHINE allowed them some much needed free time during the holiday period in which they were able to participate in the activities listed above and gave them much needed respite during the holidays that they otherwise would not of had.
KG is a 17 year old male who has an adult male physique and can present with some behaviours that challenge at home when he becomes anxious or frustrated. KG when at home will regularly point to the image of FUNSHINE on his social story board and is always keen to attend. To save any anxiety in the mornings while waiting for transport KG’s mum had arranged to drop him off herself and then the arranged transport would return him home in the afternoon. KG’s mum works from home so his attendance at FUNSHINE not only provides her with some respite but allows her time to fulfil her work commitments. She has informed the service that she ‘does not know how she would manage without this’.
27 parents/carers will have had the respite time afforded by their young person attending FUNSHINE, resulting in them feeling better supported to sustain their caring role. We will also have parents/carers utilising our Family Connect service for additional advice and support to help sustain them
FUNSHINE has provided opportunities for carers to have periods of respite that have made positive impacts on their lives. Parents have reported of the stresses of their caring role and the impact that this causes them and their family. We know of families that may have reached a point of crisis if it had not been for our support. Parents have reported that the FUNSHINE sessions have enabled them, for example to have focused time to spend with their other children and continue to work during holiday periods. All parents reported how much they value FUNSHINE as it allows their young people the opportunity to take part in fun activities without the stress of how parents are going to manage this everyday on We continued to encourage carers to use Family Connect, our service to help support family members and loved ones of people with a disability. We continue to gather feedback from parents/carers to influence how we further develop the service to best meet their needs.
Young person AL is an 11 year old girl who has autism, is non-verbal and can have distressed outbursts when she is under-stimulated. Her mother is her main carer and when she has AL at home she has advised that she cannot do anything else other than ensure AL is supervised and kept busy with activities at all times. This is very draining for mum and the physical outbursts from AL take a huge emotional and physical toll. Mum has informed FUNSHINE staff that she feels the service is invaluable to herself and her daughter. It gives mum the much needed time to recharge her own emotional well being and allows her to take part in activities out with her caring role. Mum has advised that she uses this time to catch up with family and friends and get the much needed support from her extended network that she needs in order to continue providing the care that AL needs on an everyday basis. Mum has advised that she sees an improvement in AL’s sense of wellbeing and her emotional dysregulation is lessened after she has attended FUNSHINE.
16 young people and their 27 parents/carers will report having improved wellbeing. This may be improved physical or emotional wellbeing which has resulted from the positive impact that FUNSHINE has had.
At FUNSHINE we offer the opportunity for our young people to socialise with peers and take part in activities that may otherwise be impossible for their families to arrange. Due to the needs of the young people who attend FUNSHINE they are often marginalised from everyday activities and the usual opportunities that young people have to explore peers relationships, develop new skills and interests and take part in physical exercise. FUNSHINE offers all of these opportunities through taking part in physical games and activities, seasonal themed arts and crafts and ensuring that there are group activities where the young people can learn to communicate with their peers, build friendships and learn skills such as co-operation and sharing. For parents and carers knowing that their young people are participating in these activities while being cared for and having fun allows them some much needed respite to recharge their own well being and be better prepared for their caring role.
Young person OK although she can walk, due to her health conditions she utilises her wheelchair on a regular basis. This is partly due to her physical needs but also to help prevent injury. While at FUNSHINE, OK is able to move about more freely without her wheelchair in a safe and supported environment. Games have been adapted to allow her to participate with ease. OK loves these experiences, and it not only improves her physical health but also her emotional wellbeing as she is able to participate with her peers in a safe environment allowing her to feel included and helping to build her confidence. OK’s parents have advised that they have seen a huge improvement in her mood and her willingness to be more physically active since her attendance at FUNSHINE. This in return has decreased the pressure that her parents feel and has allowed them a sense of hope that their daughter can maintain her physical health, be included and can build successful peer relationships.