The charity, Friends for Leisure, has pioneered a very successful programme of activities and workshops for those of their disabled young people who will soon be above their age-range.
A trial programme was run last year in the north of Cheshire East and the second has now been completed in Crewe.
The aim of Looking Forward is to provide young people and their families with the practical skills and knowledge to help make growing up easier and to increase their confidence and independence.
One parent reported as a highlight:
“For our son to have fun with people his own age and to be able to look after himself and be confident about himself”.
Other parents saw noticeable differences which may seem everyday to most people but which are particularly significant if the young person has a disability.
“She makes me cups of tea in the morning”, she chooses her clothes, has been more confident, our son enjoyed the practical sessions such as first aid and keeping safe”
The programme ran weekly with the sessions covering healthy eating, staying safe and where to go for help (such as if you have toothache or need a haircut).
The young people were encouraged to think about appropriate clothing for a number of situations.
There were talks on finding work, basic first aid and relationships – with an interactive drama session.
One evening, the group went out for a meal together, again something that is taken for granted by many young people, but for those with a disability, going out without parents is very unusual.
As a finale, the young people had an overnight stay at a nearby youth hostel, without their parents.
While preparing for this, they talked about what clothes to take, they learned about saving money, planned what they would eat and what activities they would like to have there.
Orienteering was something very new to most of the participants, along with the archery on the morning of the second day, which all the young people particularly enjoyed.
One young person reported that he felt:
“Proud to proud to achieve things like walking up the hill/down the steps into Luds Church”
The parents were also offered the chance to participate in workshops, led by specialists who encouraged the parents to think about the future.
A solicitor talked about the setting up a trust fund and making a will, and a health worker went through the services that are available to disabled adults.
A trustee of the charity with his adult daughter, one of the first Friends for Leisure young people talked about independent living and an advisor from the Cheshire Centre for Independent Living discussed direct payments.
Friends for Leisure would like to thank all the volunteers who supported Looking Forward and the Crewe YMCA for the use of their meeting room and making them so welcome.
At the end of the programme, parents, young people and the charity staff all agreed that this was a very worthwhile course and that they had all learned new things from it.
For information about Friends for Leisure, including volunteering opportunities, please contact the office on: 01260 275333.
You can also email them on firstname.lastname@example.org or look on the website using the following link friendsforleisure.org.uk