Reach4Reality phase 4
A story by Reach4Reality
We provided short outdoor activity breaks (days, overnights, weekends or 5 day camps) for 9 young people with a social interaction difficulty not receiving funding from the Children’s Disability Service or Self Directed Support.
Reach4Reality provide short outdoor activity sessions for 18 young people with a social interaction difficulty.
What Reach4Reality phase 4 did
We worked with 9 young people with autism, involving them in regular (weekly or fortnightly) 1:1 short activity breaks such as walking, biking, table tennis, tennis, badminton or going to the gym. We also provided overnight, weekend or 5 day outdoor activity camps at local outdoor centres, for them to join in depending on their needs.
Activities included, gorge walking, crate climbing, mountain biking and were tailored to the individual needs of the young people, for example one young person took part in two canoe/kayak expeditions. During these times carers were able to spend quality time with other family members or just enjoy the time without their caring responsibilities. The young people were already known to us and with whom we had been working through our previous Better Breaks funding.
We also ran a series of 6 short activity sessions for small groups of young people with autism, in each of the following activities, canoeing, kayaking, (both at Muirtown Basin and Loch Dochfour) indoor climbing (Inverness Aquadome climbing wall), foundation biking (Highland Cycle ability track), mountain biking ( Abriachan Forest), archery (at Bowhunter) and two days skiing on the dry ski slope at Abernethy Trust, Nethybridge followed by a skiing weekend using the ski slopes at the Lecht.
These activities were available to new young people as well as to those already known to us, and were advertised locally through local organisations and networks. When choosing the young people for these activities, we took into account the level of their need, whether they had any other opportunities for taking part in similar activities and the general level of respite available to them. During these activities, carers were able to enjoy a few hours free of their caring responsibilities, spending time with other family members or friends, shopping, swimming or enjoying a leisurely coffee.
He took an active part in our canoeing, kayaking and archery sessions and really grew in confidence as his skills improved in each of the activities. He particularly found the kayaking challenging but showed great perseverance in coping with his frustrations and succeeded in gaining his SCA 1* kayak award. He also took part in our skiing days, again he initially found it hard to master the basics of skiing, but with great determination he persevered, overcame his frustrations and greatly improved.
Rory joined us for our skiing weekend (a big step for him as he had never been away with us before) and you could see his confidence really growing as he transferred his new skills onto real snow. Through the confidence he gained, he was also able to interact really positively with the other young people on the weekend, and was supportive and encouraging towards one of the other young people when upset: he has now expressed an interest in training as a Junior Leader with us.
Josh also came on 3 of our weekend camps and joined us for one of our 5 day camps. Due to the confidence he gained on this 5 day camp he was able to go on his school P7 5 day residential trip, something his Mum had previously never thought possible, and which was a great success.
Feedback from Mum included, Reach4Reality are a huge support to me managing my caring role during a time where my own health is poor, with the weekly contact with the Project Worker and looking forward to a break when Josh is at camp. Without this respite I would never get a break from Josh to recharge my batteries, he wouldn’t get time away that is valuable to his self-esteem, and I wouldn’t have time to spend alone with my eldest son who has his own flat now.
Local community centres for badminton and table tennis, local communities for walks and biking, local outdoor activity providers or centres for the other activities such as Bowhunter and Fairburn Activity Centre for archery, Abernethy Trust, Nethybridge and Ardgour for camps. Active Spirit for canoe/kayak expeditions, Muirtown Sea Scouts and Muirtown Basin for the canoeing and kayaking sessions which we ran ourselves; and the Lecht ski slope for skiing.
The young people have therefore had greater access to and greatly benefited from using mainstream, local facilities as well as having a greater choice of activities available locally. For some of the young people this has given them sufficient confidence to use the facilities themselves and for others it has given them greater confidence to take part in our residential camps.
“The climbing has been rewarding and the canoeing and biking have been fun and stimulating. I also enjoyed doing the obstacle course”
What Reach4Reality has learnedFor a young person with autism coming on a series of short activities with people they do not know, is a challenging and sometimes daunting experience. However by allowing carers to accompany them initially (if required) on the first session for example, we have overcome this and seen the young people grow in confidence as they trust the new adults and begin to interact with the other young people. We are building on this further with our activity sessions through our current (2017-18) funding.
We have been able to personalise our service further by providing additional and more regular 1:1 activities when needed for example due to worsening ill-health of a sole carer, or due to emotional well being problems of one of the young people. Also by providing activities catering to the particular interests of the young people e.g. Canoe/kayak expeditions. This has been a springboard for us to start trialling the Duke of Edinburgh Award for a small number of our young people.
The work we have provided through our Better Breaks funding has helped us as an organisation to build a greater awareness locally of who we are and what we do. The short activity sessions have also helped young people grow in confidence and as a taster of what our overnights and residentials are like, as well as starting to build relationships with the young people.