The Yard Youth Clubs
A story by The Yard
The Yard’s Youth Clubs are three clubs for disabled young people between the ages of 14-18yrs. Our team of creative playworkers work with our disabled young people to give them more independence and provide a fun independent outlet, whilst allowing their parents/carers some respite away from their caring role.
What The Yard Youth Clubs did
The Yards Youth Clubs were held either in person at The Yard or an external setting e.g. the cinema, beach, Ryze trampoline. Or due to the Coronavirus pandemic online over Zoom. The three clubs take place after school in the early evening from 4.45-6.45pm on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday’s. The clubs were tailored loosely depending on the needs of the young people, culminating in our Monday club members having the highest level of need, our Thursdays the least level of need and our Tuesday session being all girls.
Over the year the clubs moved back from virtual sessions due to the coronavirus pandemic to in person and changed somewhat due to consultation with the young people and their carers throughout the pandemic to suit the new needs of the families we work with. In addition, we were able to increase the numbers of disabled children and young people who could attend the clubs. The clubs moved from the original sessions mentioned above to the following fortnightly sessions:
- 8-13’s mixed group session (Tuesdays)
- 16-20’s girls group session (Tuesdays)
- Adulthood Transition mixed group session (Thursdays)
- 13-18’s mixed group session (Thursdays)
The project has gone to plan even with the format change in the middle of the year, and has addressed all the Better Break priorities. It has been a great success as we have been able to change and improve the projects original model to include more disabled members, which has allowed us to increase our reach with their carers as well.
What The Yard has learned
We have learnt a lot from this project, especially as it we had to change our model half way through the year. As we have been able to increase the numbers of members able to attend each club at a time where Covid19 has put activities like this on hold, it gave us the opportunity to learn about engaging with new families, as we had to reopen our waitlists and bring new disabled and children into the four separate sessions. In addition, we have had to adapt to developing a new short break activity, as although these sessions were a continuation of our previous clubs they are quite new, they run at different times, for different age ranges, with new families. It has given our play team and operations leads something to get their teeth stuck into and has reinvigorated the sessions.
As an organisation, especially after the pandemic we have had to learn about bringing in new, effective and stable sources of income to fund the project, as the funding landscape is ever changing and has become even more unstable since Covid19.
How The Yard has benefitted from the funding
This Better Breaks funding has allowed us to adapt our targeted services for disabled children and young people into a service that truly benefits the families who use our sessions since the pandemic. The security of this funding helped us to have the freedom to adapt these sessions which have been well loved for a number of years and enabled us to have the time to do the consultation work necessary with families to create these successful fun and friendship youth sessions.
Disabled young people between 14-18 years will have had more opportunities to have fun, develop friendships and do activities they enjoy.
This objective has been achieved fully as we have given lots of disabled children and young people between 14-18 years the chance to gain more opportunities to make friends, have fun and take part in activities either they or their peers have inspired. Through our fun and friendship youth sessions we have given disabled children and young people and outlet and activity for them to enjoy for them, whilst also providing respite for their carers/parents. This has also been extended age wise as we changed the format of the clubs to sessions halfway through the year to widen the age range to 8-20 years.
Parents of D, say, “D has been coming here since he was four years old, and we could not have been more thankful for the timing! With D getting bigger and stronger, we were constantly worried that no one would understand him, or he would hurt himself or someone else. Coming from a hectic lifestyle, The Yard has offered us a routine that we all love and support, especially since attending his new fun session. When we first heard of The Yard, we thought it would be too good to be true, but we all keep finding new ways to have an adventure and to play. Immediately, we felt at ease at The Yard, knowing that D was understood and accepted regardless of how he’s feeling that day. The Yard has been the judgement-free and pressure-free place that D needed to act naturally and be a kid. The Yard has given D a place where he is no longer the odd man out; he has found a community where he is in the majority, learning that his play is no longer different to others’.”
In 12 month’s time 72 carers will have had 120 hours of respite where they had been given the opportunity to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
This outcome has been achieved as we have provided respite for a high number of carers who have been able to gain more resilience, self-confidence and happiness through having a few hours to themselves where they are also safe in the knowledge that their children are being cared for and are also happy.
C’s mum, says, “As C got older, we found that the gap between him and his peers grew. This affected not only C, but the distance between us and other parents as well. Over the years, The Yard has given myself and my husband our peer group – our tribe. We get access to other families who experience the same issues we do, who have suggestions of how to address things, and have no judgement of us at all, this has become even more noticeable now that C has joined a new independent session where I have met more carers who now know C well. At The Yard, all of C’s favourite things to do are normal and cool, so he can feel understood. And the team, well the team join in! The sadness and frustration that you can feel when your life changes, and you have to adapt to life with a diagnosis or a disability as a family, is an entirely normal bit of the journey. Make The Yard a step in your journey, even when it seems scary to go to a new place and you don’t know how any of your family will react. Know that when you arrive, you are understood, you are respected and you are safe. The Yard has given us somewhere that feels like home.”
Over the course of the year 72 carers will feel better supported and as a result of the respite they will have the opportunity to relax and improve their mental well-being, thus ensuring they are better supported and equipped to sustain their caring role.
As noted in the second outcome we have been able to work with a number of carers to provide them with respite as their child or young person is looked after by our team. This respite gives the carer or carers time to relax and gain increased positive mental well-being as they can do something for themselves without the worry of ensuring their child is safe and happy at the same time. This respite and time to themselves is conducive to a carer feeling more able to sustain their caring role. This outcome has been achieved successfully. Due to the change in format of the sessions through the year the 72 figure has increased as well.
D’s dad, says, “D and I have been coming to The Yard for only a short while, but we have never felt safer than we do there. Before The Yard, going out and about required a lot of planning and preparation; something that was supposed to be fun and enjoyable, instead caused anxiety. Places like parks and soft play areas can be difficult, due to them being busy and the potential for him running off, which can result in him being unsafe. The Yard has given us a place where D can truly be himself, as well as a place where we can meet and talk to other families who may be in similar situations. Having the ability to see D begin to interact with other kids has been amazing. The Yard allows us to be able to watch him enjoy an array of sensory opportunities and experiences without the worry that his play will be judged. He now takes part in a fun and friendship session where he can play and I can go and do something whilst I know he is having fun. This has been amazing for him and it has really helped me too. From having everything set up for D to have a great time in a safe place, to brilliant staff that are friendly, approachable, and supportive, you can never regret a trip to The Yard!”
48 disabled children and young people and 72 carers will have improved well-being, resulting from access to time to be independent of each other, allowing for opportunities to experience new things, gain respite and socialise, thus improving their self-confidence and self-esteem...
This final outcome has been achieved as both parties, the child and the carer/s have been able to access independent time where they can both be free to do what they want to do. This has lowered the social isolation that can be felt as well as improving self-esteem.
Q’s dad, says, “Q and I have been coming to The Yard since 2018. We needed a community that allowed her to be safe and worry-free. The Yard has been the place where Q could be her true self; and if she was having a challenging day, there were families who understood, judgement-free, and could even offer advice when we needed it. All the while, Q just wanted a place where she can swim and ride her scooters! What we found when we first started coming here was that The Yard created a place of structure for us. It became a building block for us to work with her on her play. The Yard may just be a place for Q to have stress-free play, but for me, it has become a father-daughter experience that positively influences her whole week going forward. Now she feels comfortable and confident there, enough that she now attends a fun session on her own and has made friends as I go and do the family shop or go into Edinburgh for the time. I would recommend The Yard to any family, as it is a truly fantastic space and has been an incredible help to many families, and I know it will continue to be for many years to come!”