“YMCA’s inclusive youth services have been so beneficial for Charlie,” says his mother, Andrea.
“We were struggling to find a setting that suited him, but coming to the YMCA has had a big knock-on effect for Charlie. The supportive staff have helped him regain his confidence and build his self-worth and this has opened the door to many new and varied experiences which previously would have been out of his reach.”
While 12-year-old Charlie is academically ahead of his age group, he finds social situations very difficult, experiences anxieties relating to his Asperger’s syndrome and has an Epileptogenic Focus on the brain which leads to brief vacant episodes.
“The opportunity to play football with his friends at Yip4Youth had a wonderful impact on Charlie. It opened up a whole new world for him, from becoming a supporter of Chelsea to joining an inclusive disability football team that plays in the Surrey FA disability league,” explains Andrea
As Charlie doesn’t access mainstream school, the YMCA has been a lifeline for the family, helping to support Charlie’s specific needs, wants and desires while fulfilling some of the requirements of his education health care plan.
“Surrey LEA are now funding the YMCA’s Healthy Life Skills training and practical experience days for Charlie. It’s a measure of the faith they have in your provision,” says Andrea.
In partnership with the YMCA, Charlie has already achieved a sports leadership award and is currently working toward a food hygiene qualification. He is also an accomplished drummer with the opportunity to perform in an international music festival in Scotland during the summer.
Charlie’s development has not only impressed himself but encouraged others around him. He is friendly, warm-hearted, enthusiastic and a great ambassador for the YMCA’s work and the impact it has.
“I would miss trying new things, learning how to be independent and making new friends if I couldn’t come here,” says Charlie. “The staff are helpful, friendly and brilliant.”
Andrea is very eloquent about what she sees as the YMCA’s greatest value:
“You block the gap for the children who would otherwise fall through holes in the system. A while ago, we never left home and our lives were shattered. Now, the skills that the staff have instilled in Charlie are giving him a springboard for a positive future.”