Social & Emotional Support for Deaf Children, Young People & their Families
A story by West Scotland Deaf Children's Society
We worked with St Roch’s After School Club to provide a wide variety of fun & stimulating activities and opportunities for our deaf young people, from all over the West of Scotland and beyond.
They met and mixed with an age appropriate peer group while their carers enjoyed a break from their caring roles. This helped alleviate the isolation and loneliness they experience in a hearing world, builds confidence & self esteem, fosters life long friendships and helps our young people to see their deafness in a more positive light.
West Scotland Deaf Children’s Society provides social and emotional support to deaf children, young people and their families. For many of our families the clubs provide the only social activity and meaningful peer interaction that the children and young people have, and the only break their carers are able to actually relax and benefit from.
What Social & Emotional Support for Deaf Children, Young People & their Families did
Our staff & volunteers, including those from the Department of Deaf Education at St Roch's have successfully provided, 31 outings and activities for the Saturday Club,
26 outings and activities for the Youth Group, 10 outings and activities for our younger children & St Roch's provided an after school club for deaf pupils with additional needs to participate in a range of social activities.
All of our activities and outings were advertised on our website and Facebook pages. Programmes are produced and sent out by email, and or post to our families, audiology departments, social work departments, and schools with a hearing impaired unit. Families are also advised by telephone and text.
St Roch's after school club have regular pupil voice meetings to discuss the kind of activities pupils would like to participate in. Selected pupils will then contribute to the planning and organising of the trips. Likewise the plans for the Saturday Club & Youth Group are devised in consultation with our children, young people and their parents. This year the trips have included bowling, theatre, Laser Station, and Go Karting followed by a meal, junk modelling, a pool competition, trip to the cinema, a visit from the Animal Man, a magic workshop, and Ice Hockey.
This time allows carers to get a break away knowing that their children are enjoying themselves in a supervised and controlled environment. They are safe, happy and with people who fully understand their communication needs. Carers use the time in many different ways. Some gain strength and support from one another, others just enjoy a relaxing break, or perhaps spending quality, individual time with their other children who often feel they do not receive the same amount of attention as their deaf siblings, or to catch up with family and friends. For many it is the only break they get where they are truly able to switch off from the challenges they face as carers of disabled children.
Several are considering applying and another who has represented deaf issues as part of a disability group at both the Westminster & Scottish Parliaments. Three are in the process of training with the British Deaf Association to become deaf mentors. These are just some examples of how getting the right support, feeling included, valued, having friends & a peer group and developing a strong & positive deaf image can help our young people to reach their potential.
Carol Campbell (West Scotland Deaf Children Society)
One pupil who had never before been allowed to participate in outside activities for cultural reasons was allowed to participate under the condition that teachers were supervising. A taxi home also assisted the pupil who lived further away and had no means of travel.
Melissa Millan (Teacher of the Deaf - St Roch's Secondary School)
"This young man lives in a small village in South Ayrshire where he is socially isolated. I have been transporting him to and from events whilst remaining in close proximity. This allows (A) to join in with the deaf community. I have witnessed (A) grow in confidence & improve his social skills. (A) can now pick up on social cues (something he was unable to do before) and he has the confidence to join in with other's conversations and activities.
His BSL skills have improved hugely. He always asks when the next event will be and this is, in my opinion, of great benefit to (A) and his family - without this service he would return to a routine of school-home-school, not communicating with others from one day to the next."
It was especially hard on our daughter. She was a 10 year old girl being told (what she believed) she was different from her peers, she wasn't coping well mentally with the diagnosis and the wearing of the hearing aid until we found West Scotland Deaf Children Society. Since being involved Kayla is coping better. She attends the Youth Group and has made friends, where she feels she is no different and belongs. This has helped her massively with her confidence and her self esteem.
The charity has made a massive impact to our daughter individually and also to us as a family. We cannot thank you enough and don't know where we would be without the help and support of the charity.' Claire uses the break the club affords her to spend time with Kayla's younger sister and her grandmother (Claire's Mum). Kayla's confidence has improved so much that at a recent youth group trip to the Sky Academy, she presented a piece to camera in front of a room full of her peers, interpreters and Sky staff & technicians!
"Patrick and I were distributing leaflets, in our local area on behalf of West Scotland Deaf Children Society, to the GP surgery, local shops etc. At the chemist the woman, Jackie who knows him, was asking Patrick how he likes the club." Patrick responded by telling her that "I love the club - everyone is the same as me. Before I had no confidence but I've been going since I was 5 and now I'm 11. That's 6 years and now I have full confidence!
Before I didn't know how to say to anyone that I was deaf, but now I'm proud to say I'm deaf because I see other deaf children and older helpers who are deaf and I didn't see that before going to the club and it's because of the club. If you know of anyone who is deaf please tell them to come to the club because it's very, very good and I have a good time" Patrick
What West Scotland Deaf Children's Society has learnedThe fund allows us to provide a wide and varied range of activities and opportunities for our deaf children and young people, which we would otherwise be unable to afford. The benefits of this provision to our families is invaluable!
The participation and responsibility of the young people, in decision making, is essential to ensure they know they are in important part of a team working, with others, to decide on activities and trips. Providing real life skills which are required in the world of work such as planning, preparing, teamwork and independent working.
Advertising our clubs to everyone at every opportunity. This includes organising events for families and younger children to make them aware of the benefits to be gained by joining. Supporting families and empowering them, particularly those who are less likely to ask for help, is essential to enable them to get the best outcomes for their children and their family.
Good organisation is the key to the success of every venture!