A story by ENABLE Scotland
The Schools Out Project provided an activity programme led by the interests of children and young people with learning disabilities and multiple support needs in North Lanarkshire and Fife.
These sessions provided the children and young people with fun and friendship with peers utilising community resources whilst parents and carers benefited from a regular break from their caring role.
What Schools Out did
We recruited one volunteer to work on the project and continued using 2 volunteers from our previous delivery years. We use a peer volunteer model which has been incredibly successful as the children and young people attending the sessions look to the volunteers as peers/friends rather than 'workers' thus creating a more natural friendship-based support
We advertised the sessions throughout our existing children and families networks in North Lanarkshire and Fife and communicated the opportunities to social workers, health visitors and family coordinators for dissemination throughout their networks. We implemented a criteria and outcomes framework to ensure that the project was engaging with the children and families with the greatest need.
We delivered 20 session in North Lanarkshire and 20 sessions in Fife including bowling, golf, cinema, fishing, swimming, visiting the Kelpies at Helix Park, Adventure Planet and Christmas Party.
We started the Fife sessions after the summer holidays as there was an initiative being run be jointly by Fife Council and ENABLE Scotland for children with multiple support needs during the summer holidays and we didn't want to dilute the impact of that. By waiting until after the summer holidays, the children, young people and families benefited more!
Are we going out to do it all again Hayleigh? (coordinator)"
Another PA commented "kids are mixing more, seem a lot more confident" Finally, "the kids have all become really comfortable around each other and don't find it hard to socialise within the group" The skills and confidence required to develop friendships have been established throughout these sessions and will be used by the children and young people in the future.
What ENABLE Scotland has learnedWe have learned that we need to meet the needs of children and young people with multiple support needs AND their families, this includes their siblings. Families have told us that these short breaks give their children a sense of independence and more activities and opportunities to socialise with peers that are otherwise unavailable for these children out with the structure of school particularly in school holidays.
We have also learned that the breaks should be on a mutually agreeable day and time so that the benefits to parents and carers are maximised.