Blackburn Youth Zone have started their new young leaders programme within diversity and have eight young people taking part, whilst one of their members has become a Youth Zone Ambassador. One member of the inclusion programme has now left as a young person and has moved on to become a paid member within the inclusion staff team. 15 inclusion members have been training with their non disabled peers on delivering a Zumbathon in the October half term to parents, children and carers.
The Youth Zone also has 13 students from a local specialist school attending every week to develop their climbing wall skills, developing their physical fitness and skills to bell ring and belay. This quarter 30 of their members have been able to take part in a range of trips to Blackpool, Jump Nation, Preston Trampoline Centre and Gullivers world and have experienced many feeling they did not know they had.
As well as this 14 members attended a 2 night 3 day outdoor adventure residential at Winmarleigh Hall. Taking part in a range of activities such as Zip Wire, Giant swing, Orienteering, Raft building, Rock climbing and many more. Whilst here they socialised with other disabled and non disabled youth and school groups. They saw a massive increase in confidence in their members in comparison to last year.
10 of BYZ’s members have attended the ability football league at Preston with one of their members having joined and taken part in a new project developing ambassadors for the Youth Zone. His confidence and social skills have grown considerably over the last year and half and has even taken part in overnight residential trips to other Youth Zones. This is something this young person would have been extremely anxious and awkward about less than 2 years ago. Through his involvement in the ALPF project he has grown tremendously and is independently getting himself involved in things in and around club without the support of staff.
BYZ have a member who first came to Blackburn Youth Zone urged by some of his family members to socialize in a mainstream environment. This member’s background saw them attend a specialist school from the age of 4 and had lived in a very isolated environment. They had travelled to and from school on the school bus, supported by an escort and bus driver. He mixed only with his disabled peers who had varying levels of impairments. Whilst at school he developed some independence skills such as toileting and moving around in and out of the school building in his wheelchair. Whilst at school the young person built positive relations with staff at the school, but not with his peers. He didn’t really build friendship groups with his peers to the extent of his non disabled peer may have done, he did not go to friends for tea, due to transport needs, support and confidence of parents to allow him to go out without them or the support from school. Due to the lack of space and resources physical activities at school were limited and the young person put on a lot of weight whilst growing up. The member attended this school up until the age of 19 and then advised to attend a mainstream further education college. This was the first time the member had been to a mainstream environment independently of family and friends. This was a huge culture shock and had a negative effect in so much that the young person didn’t see himself as whole or ‘normal’. He felt inside he wanted to achieve things like his non disabled peers such as working, getting married and moving into his own home but thought this was never possible. After a few months he decided he didn’t want to continue to go to college and would prefer to stay at home. His family felt he needed to mix and it was at this point he started to attend Blackburn Youth Zone. Initially the member moved around the building independently only on the ground floor around the rec area and chatted to staff quite comfortably but not really with his peers. The inclusion staff encouraged the young person to get involved in our young leaders scheme. The scheme encourages young people to come together and develop skills such as social, team and confidence skills. Within the group the member worked with his disabled and non disabled peers, this helped build friendships and awareness of different impairments. The young person developed in confidence through attending club and getting involved in a range of activities. However the young person still felt they could not do certain aspects of activities such as sport because he is a wheelchair user. With support and adapted equipment we have been able to help him take part in the gym and climbing wall, helping raise his fitness levels and belief within himself. Through him participating alongside his peers his confidence has grown and he is developing a ‘can do’ attitude. Through the money from the big lottery and the ALPF project this member has also been able to attend 2 mixed residential trips with disabled and non disabled young people, last year and this year. He has gone from strength to strength over this last year. Last year he was happy to just come along on the residential and have some independence away from home. Whilst there he was content in watching his peers undertake a range of outdoor activities, we asked and encouraged him many times to have a go but declined. This year he came again on a mixed residential but this year his confidence had grown considerably and he took part in every activity available and even got a little competitive with his peers. He was a lot more independent in dressing himself, showering and even offering to help others at lunchtime, getting sauces, cultery etc for his peers. We have seen such an improvement in this young person over the last year. This member is becoming mentally and physically healthier through attending our provision and taking part in the young leaders programme, attending mainstream and diversity sessions mixing with disabled and non disabled peers and is going from strength to strength. He is now considering going back to college and has told his parents he would like to start the process in finding a wife. He is starting to believe in himself and looking at the things he ‘can do’ rather than on what he thought he could not do.