Training in any walk of life is imperative. From training to be a professional footballer to training the brain to calculate crazy sums. Training breeds excellence.
It is especially important in youth work as it leads to increased high quality provision which is vital for the progression and development of young people within our Youth Zones.
Even more so, is the importance of training staff in the inclusive sector of our industry. Enabling young people with a disability to partake in one or more of the 20 activities per night our Youth Zones have on offer, is a vital element of a Youth Zones existence and without the dedicated, trained staff, this cannot happen.
This year the ‘A Level Playing Field Project’ has trained over 151 individual staff and volunteers from six Youth Zones.
The training has been delivered by reputable trainers such as, The National Autistic Society, National Deaf Children’s Society, English Federation of Disability Sport, British Institute of Learning Disabilities and The Seashell Trust. We have also had excellent trainers such as Anne Craddock who is a Physical Education Consultant, specialising in Sport and disability and also Helen Gill who starred in a recent Ch4 documentary ‘Born Naughty’ and is a speech and language therapist.
The ‘A Level Playing Field’ training plan focuses well on supporting staff to work with young people with pan-disabilities and additional needs and includes training to work within specialist competencies and guidelines. We ensure that staff are trained to use specialist resources and equipment for assessing and supporting the needs of young people with disabilities.
Youth Zone staff and volunteers also benefit from specialist training related to medical and other conditions. The project gains expertise and learning from specialist organisations and trainers. Specialist training covers topics such as Autism, Learning Disabilities, Cerebral Palsy and physical difficulties, deaf and hearing impairments and visual impairments. We also deliver practical training in sports inclusion training, climbing, dance, multi-sensory play, communication, safe administration of medication and personal care, behaviour awareness and games all children can play. A parent of a child who has a disability has also delivered some training entitled ‘Why inclusion matters’.
Project Co-ordinator Stephen Pearson commented: “Youth work should always begin with the young people. We get to know the young people well, listen to them, and involve them in identifying their needs. Having staff with the right skills is core to this work. We ensure that Youth Zone staff and volunteers learn about specific medical and other conditions and how they impact on an individual’s everyday life to ensure that we provide the best possible opportunity to have somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to. Youth Zone staff are also trained and trusted to work with families, especially those that are protective or reluctant to let their son or daughter engage in the Youth Zones. We develop the skills of our staff by enabling them to work together to support one another and access quality training and information and resources from reputable training providers and organisations.”
A Level Playing Field is a unique partnership project between OnSide, our Youth Zones and Seashell Trust, which aims to support over 1,200 disabled young people, aged 8-25 year olds.
The project was launched back in 2014 to address issues of limited facilities or services close to home for families with disabled children. The focus of the project is to encourage our Youth Zones to get disabled young people involved in inclusive sports and recreational activities such as football, badminton, basketball, climbing, dancing and creative activities to increase their experience of independence.
The project cannot be a success without the work of our project partners, the Seashell Trust, a charity specialising in the needs of children and young people with the most complex communication difficulties. They have helped deliver the project by providing highly specialist training for our Youth Zone volunteers and staff based on its award-winning Children’s Able and Disabled Sport (CADS) programme.