Renfrewshire Young Carers Asthma/Music Group
A story by No Strings Attached (Scotland)
We ran a music and asthma management project in Renfrewshire for young carers using wind instruments as a tool for asthma self management. The project focussed on making learning about asthma self-management through playing a wind instrument fun.
Project outcomes included improvements in both symptom control and in asthma self-management and afforded the participants the opportunity to develop better breathing and asthma control through the playing of wind instruments. We achieved this by providing trained support in asthma management, quality musical tuition and developing and encouraging peer support mechanisms.
The project also met the objectives of the Scottish Government Young Carers Strategy for Scotland 2010 – 2015 especially in regard to: the right to have a healthy life, to spend time with friends, to enjoy opportunities for leisure, relaxation and play, and to an education, in this case music education, which is often denied to young people with asthma.
What Renfrewshire Young Carers Asthma/Music Group did
In the final six months of this two year project we have:
Continued to secure a venue for delivery at Paisley Grammar School, secured alternative accommodation when our primary venue is unavailable and ran weekly music tuition sessions for the young carers until October 2015. We continued with the services of a qualified asthma nurse to provide asthma management support for the Young Carers and continued to provide free music woodwind instruments on loan for the young carers.
We attracted a core of around 12 young carers with asthma to the project, with another 3 attending on a more spasmodic basis dues to caring obligations.
Networked with other Carer Centres with a view to expanding the project. Utilised funding (2014 – 2015) to pay for music teachers to continue our work with Renfrewshire Young Carers at Paisley Grammar.
We developed peer support mechanisms through music tuition to help identify and develop opportunities for young Carers with asthma to help each other.
Substantially increased the involvement of Cared for Adults of the Young Carers many of whom now attend every week and participate in our activities, especially those organised by the Asthma Nurse, and involved Young carers and Cared for individuals in decision making as to how the project could progress.
XXXX has enjoyed this group, meeting new friends and all the teachers involved in the project have made her feel welcome and comfortable. It's given her something to have for herself outside of her role within our home. XXXX is looking forward to progressing in this group in the future.
The cared for adult benefited from project as the young carer felt a lot happier in themselves and asthma improved and also gained more confidence, and joined the local band in their school. Cared for adult said, if it hadn’t been for this project her son would not have had the opportunity to play a musical instrument and would not have been able to join the school band which they had to auditioned for.
What No Strings Attached (Scotland) has learnedBecause of the various backgrounds of the Young Carers we have had to adapt our teaching style, especially with regards to music education to suit their dedication, and where appropriate set them challenges to extend their musical ability. Learned not to push things too far too quick also The World Asthma event they played at in 2014 was successful but, with retrospect, probably stretched some their confidence levels to the limit.
Some are happy to play in public, others less so. We have to respect that, unexpected Challenges or benefits were the Young Carers with asthma continue to astound with their enthusiasm and vitality in the face of multiple adversity. They display a degree of maturity perhaps thrust on them early in life and are committed to the project which many see (quite rightly) as their ‘night off’.
Their degree of confidence continues to grow, through a mixture of better asthma management, playing music, mixing with peers and slowly growing into vibrant teenagers. Their history seems to make them more devoted to the Project Team than could perhaps have been said of some of the children in other projects we ran. Here there seems genuine appreciation.
The extent to which the Young Carers have maintained their attendance has been admirable in the face of sometimes harrowing circumstances. On occasion we have been taken aback that some of the Young Carers still turn up, or perhaps that’s why they do!
Furthermore, the Young Carers strongly promote the Charity in their peer group, and have shown an active involvement in peer led support. They are also keen to be involved associated training and hence enhance their CV.
Do Differently in the Future, probably not much apart from adapting music expectations more to suit each individual, success comes in many shapes and forms. The project has gone remarkably smooth so far, but we nevertheless regularly review our operations and will continue to do so.