The Yard Youth Clubs
A story by The Yard Adventure Centre
We provided Youth Clubs for 52 disabled young people aged 12-18. The weekly clubs each ran for 2.5 hours every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
They had the dual benefit of providing a much needed social and development opportunity for the young people attending whilst giving their family a much needed break and time to themselves.
What The Yard Youth Clubs did
The past year has been really steady and successful for the clubs. The staffing has mainly remained consistent throughout that period with the addition of a couple of new sessional workers to help support the core team. We have also been fortunate to have the support of 7 excellent volunteers across the three clubs. This year we have had quite a bit of movement in terms of young people joining the clubs as some of our young people have moved onto the 18+ club that we run, opening up spaces for new members to join. We currently have small waiting lists for our Clubs and places were given based on waiting list order.
All of the new joiners have adapted well to the Clubs and the existing members have been very welcoming. The young people have continued to get involved in a mixture of in house activities at The Yard such as arts projects, baking (this year our clubs were involved in making a cake of The Yard which won first prize at Cake Fest),karaoke, film nights and external trips such as swimming, to Ryze Trampoline Centre, to the Playhouse to see Shrek, picnics at the beach and meals out to name a few.
The feedback from carers is that they are using the break to catch up on jobs around the house or shopping, spend one on one time with their other children, exercise or just spend some time with their partner or friend without interruptions.
The staff and volunteers consistently introduce new activities, such as trips to Linlithgow Palace, drumming workshops, a pamper night with Lush and a Master Chef cooking experience. They also continue to run sessions that are really popular such as our trip to the German Markets at Christmas time, bowling and cinema trips.
‘I much appreciate the time to spend with other family members/or myself. I also use the time to swim at the local swim centre.’
‘My husband and I have managed a few ‘date’ nights while she has been at the club. (Normally we go out separately, one of us staying home with A’)
‘Respite – it’s good to have some quiet time with our other children while knowing that he’s having fun’
‘I know that my son is in a safe and stimulating environment that he enjoys. This enables me to spend quality time with other members of the family’
‘The time when C’s at The Yard allows me to either meet up with other parents for a much needed chat or do something with C’s younger sister. I can relax knowing C’s in a safe environment with other kids he’s familiar with and workers he knows and trusts who do engage with C and encourage him to join in with fun activities and snack.’
What The Yard Adventure Centre has learnedWork with the family and the young person to ensure that the Club is the best fit for them as an individual. We are very fortunate that we often know some of the young people who are waiting to join the club either through them attending our Family drop in sessions, playschemes or through their school visiting. Using that knowledge we can work with the carer to work out what Club is likely to provide the best dynamic for their child and help them to settle well. There have been a few young people this year who have tried a couple of clubs, and we are fortunate that we have the option to do this to ensure the best experience for each young person.
Oversubscribe the Clubs. Last year we had long waiting lists and were finding that inevitably there would always be one or two children who are unable to attend for a variety of reasons. We now have up to 16 young people in each club and we have found this is totally manageable with our staffing ratio’s and has not impacted on the dynamic of the groups. We also have done a lot of work recently with our families to ensure that they let us know about planned absences so that we can plan accordingly, particularly as we run our sessions 48 weeks of the year.
Supporting transitions into new clubs is so important for the young people and their families. This year quite a number of our young people who have been attending the youth clubs for years reached 18/19 and have now moved onto our young adults group. We worked with the families to provide months of advance warning on this and celebrated each young person leaving the group by hosting a special night for the young person leaving and had parties, special meals etc based on what they enjoyed most. This has worked really well and has also helped the transition into the new club easier as the young person felt prepared.