Social & Emotional Support to Deaf Children and their Families
A story by West Scotland Deaf Children's Society
We provided a wide variety of fun & stimulating activities and opportunities for our deaf young people from all over the West of Scotland, to meet and mix with an age appropriate peer group while their carers enjoyed a break from their caring roles.
For many of our families the clubs provided 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.
West Scotland Deaf Children’s Society provides social and emotional support to deaf children, young people and their families this alleviates the isolation and loneliness they experience in a hearing world. Helps build their confidence, foster lifelong friendships, builds self esteem and helps them to see their deafness in a more positive light.
What Social & Emotional Support to Deaf Children and their Families did
Using our existing staff and volunteers, we have successfully provided: 32 outings and activities for the Saturday Club, 26 outings and activities for the Youth Group, 10 outings & activities for our younger children and 3 night/4 day trip to Alton Towers for 20 young people with St Roch’s After School Club.
Our activities and outings are advertised on our website and Facebook pages, club programmes are sent out by post and email. Information is passed to schools, audiology units and social work departments. Families are additionally informed of upcoming events by telephone and or text messages. St Roch’s Alton Towers trip was offered to all deaf young people who attend the school.
Having consulted with our young people and their carers, our activities and outings have been wide & varied and included: mask making, a technology day, Ranger led activities, a Scottish Day, tennis, go karting, ice skating, a deaf role model night, ghost walk, fitness night, Hampden Park tour, Bullying workshop, a Mime & Visual Vernacular (VV) workshop and the Alton Towers trip.
Our carers use the break this affords them in a variety of ways. Many parents have set up their own support systems and spend the time together enjoying each others company, and when necessary supporting each other through the challenges they face as carers of disabled children. Others use the time to catch up with family and friends or to spend quality, individual time with their other children. Some will run errands or shop and for others it’s just a chance to enjoy a rest. All of our families appreciate this time and relax in the knowledge that their children are happy, having fun and making friends, in a safe environment with people who fully understand their communication needs.
The trip to Alton Towers was a great opportunity and allowed the pupils to bond, develop special friendships & to mix with other deaf young people of various age groups. Some developed leadership skills and learned valuable life skills. The friendships, confidence skills and staff/pupil relationships have continued to develop. Many parents said how much both they & their children enjoyed the real break this gave them.
From a personal point of view my 2 daughters that attend the youth club and activities organised by the West Scotland Deaf Children Society have grown so much by way of confidence. They have met so many new friends through the youth club and have participated in activities that as a family we would probably never have thought to try.... The other plus about the youth club is that all the individuals that attend don’t have the stigma of feel different to their peers as they are mixing with kids facing similar problems as themselves and this allows their confidence to grow. Also the youth workers that help organise the activities are all professional well-mannered youths who give everything to make each event memorable."
Linda Anne said “I get so much out of my son Patrick going to the deaf club. As this is the only time I can relax and have a conversation with other mums. As I can relax knowing my son is safe and understood as I don’t have any other time out without my child.
Patrick loves coming to the deaf club and meeting his friends on a regular basis who are the same as him he doesn’t have to be anyone, he can be himself and understood Interacting with his friends.
This morning was not a problem getting Patrick up. As he woke himself up. As the past few weeks (holidays) could not get him up in the morning. But now that deaf club has started back. Not a problem at all. He loves coming to the deaf club."
One of the Mums said that she tries to encourage her son to attend the youth club as he is very isolated at home, sits in his bedroom and seeing him laughing away and mixing with his peers was great and worthwhile encouraging him to go along. Another Mum said that she feels great when she sees her son mixing with his peer group as she can see a big difference in his confidence. The parents at this activity sat in the gallery to watch their young people enjoying an evening among friends. This gives them a chance to catch up with other parents and discuss a varied amount of topics concerning their young deaf person.
The feedback from the parents is very positive and that the youth group is a lifeline to their young people. The age range for this activity was 12 – 22 years old.”
For myself I have met many new friends, got information from other parents and even when Cameron can’t come still the friendships continue. Information is still passed through social media, text or a phone call to ask how we are. This is the only opportunity he has to spend with his friends who are deaf the same as him.”
Fatima said, “Last year in June 2015 the deaf unit at St Roch’s Secondary organized a 3 days trip to Alton Towers with 20 pupils including myself along with 6 staff members , in the beginning my parents and I weren’t too sure about participating in the trip because it was my first time leaving home and because of the problems at school, not fitting in with other people. I spoke to my pastoral care teacher about considering a meeting with my dad and I to discuss about the advantages of the trip. Eventually, thanks to Mrs Millan and to the meeting my dad gave permission after being given a lot of information and was happy to let me go.
On June 16th we left the school at approximately 10 past 9 in the morning and went on two separate mini buses. The journey took us 5-6 hours from Glasgow to our accommodation near Alton Towers with a lunch break in between. When we arrived, the staff separated us into groups unpacked our stuff and went to a restaurant below us and enjoyed our dinner finishing with a great night.
The next day we headed straight to Alton Towers after breakfast and once again were spilt into groups for the staff to supervise easier. I enjoyed the rides I took part in, feeling more accepted by others due to the excitement we shared with funny jokes being told. We all met up for lunch and went back to the rides for two more hours. After a long exhausting day, all of us were worn out with our feet sore and took ourselves into the hot tub that were just outside our accommodation. I was buzzing with the fun things that were going on that week and felt homesick afterwards but I luckily got to contact my parents through Mrs Millan's phone.
On our last day in Alton Towers it was the same as the day before but we went on more rides and I bought two photos as a souvenir to remember. Later on, after we came back to our lodges some of us headed outside to play football and some stayed in to watch TV whilst eating a Chinese takeaway and packed their stuff for the following day.
Coming back home I was really proud with the outcome of my 3 days journey because I made an achievement of being able to cope with the outdoor life and at the same time, being able to bond more with others and enjoying ourselves. The money that was funded towards us was very helpful since it changed two aspects of the trip, helping someone to improve their socializing skills and changing their lives positively with great memories made. "
What West Scotland Deaf Children's Society has learnedThis fund enables us to offer the children and young people opportunities to be involved in events and activities with their friends and peers, that we as a small charity would otherwise be unable to afford. We have learned that these opportunities improve deaf awareness in the wider community and help us achieve greater inclusion within the mainstream leisure services. In turn this helps our young people and their families feel valued and welcomed.
The need to ensure that we follow up with families, particularly if they haven’t been in touch for a while. Often it is the families who seek the least support who in fact need the most help.