YMCA East Surrey

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Real Stories – Leyla

Leyla enjoys the time she spends at our Yippee playscheme so much that she joined the group to celebrate her 8th birthday earlier this year.

YMCA staff took the children on an outing to a local farm, decorating Leyla’s wheelchair with balloons and surprising her with a birthday cake and candle.

Leyla’s smile lit up her face – a very different picture to the description of her as a younger child, as painted by one of her carers.
“For the first five years of her life, Leyla’s medical condition and complex needs meant that she was either in hospital or at home,” explains Amanda. “All her contact was with adults and she was an unhappy and miserable little girl.”

Despite having the condition from birth, Leyla has only recently been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease, an inherited chronic illness resulting in cognitive impairment as well as developmental and physical disorders. She has now been coming to Yippee’s vibrant and fulfilling short break provision for just over three years.

Yippee provides age appropriate activities for children aged 5-11 with a wide range of disabilities and complex needs. The playscheme ensures that children can play with friends and try out new activities, whilst giving families some much needed support.

With new funding this year, we have been able to accommodate children who need one-to-one support whilst in our care to a level of 40% within the Yippee group.

We currently have 272 children and young people registered with Yippee and Yip4Youth, our youth club, weekend and school holiday scheme for 12-18 year olds with disabilities and complex needs. We deliver 32,000 hours of short breaks each year.

“The YMCA staff are always friendly and pleased to see Leyla. The care is excellent and she absolutely loves it here,” says Amanda. “Leyla’s family can have a break as they know she is in good hands. Her older brother and sister can also have time off from being carers and it gives them a chance for some quality time of their own.”

“Leyla may have very specific care needs but she deserves to be around people who want to be her friend. It isn’t enough for her just to mix with those who are being paid to look after her. Yippee gives her a chance to be a child and have fun.”

Find out more about Yippee playscheme