YMCA East Surrey

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Real Stories – Henry

Henry is a young man with autism. He is non-verbal, has significant learning disabilities and finds it difficult to understand what is expected of him and what other people are feeling.

Like any other 13 year old, he loves being on the move, finding it hard to stay cooped up or inactive for long. It hasn’t always been easy to find the right outlet for Henry’s energy.

“Life with Henry in the early years was extremely difficult,” explains his mum, Chrissy. “We were living in Australia at the time and there were no social clubs or services available in our area for a child with his type of complex needs. It was an exhausting and isolating time for the whole family.”

Henry’s parents made the difficult decision to move to the UK where they would have additional family support.

“To get Henry the care that he needed in Australia was very expensive and the formal support and intervention was very limited,” says Chrissy. “Here, we were soon put in touch with the Yippee club which provided him with the fun activities and stimulation that he desperately needed.”

Henry has now moved on to Yip4Youth, the YMCA’s vibrant and fulfilling youth club, weekend and school holiday scheme for 12-18 year olds with disabilities and complex needs. Yip4Youth ensures that young people with disabilities can meet up with friends and try out new age-appropriate youth-led activities in a safe and welcoming environment.

Henry and his brother Teddy entered our May Bank Holiday Fun Run and raised over £240.00 in sponsorship money. It was an event in which his mother never imagined him taking part.

“It’s so important that he now has the chance to join in physical activities that he loves alongside other children who are just like him,” says Chrissy. “He particularly enjoys the swimming outings and is excited whenever he comes to Yip4Youth. It makes him so much happier.”

Chrissy and her family value the relationship they have with our qualified and experienced staff and the personal interaction with them which helps keep life running as smoothly as possible for Henry.

“I have no idea how we would manage without this type of short break care,” she says. “I know we will always have links with the YMCA. We count ourselves very lucky to have access to a disability friendly organisation with such a wide range of services.”

Read more about Yip4Youth