YMCA East Surrey

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Real Stories – Sarah

The entire family benefits from Sarah’s time at Yip4Youth, our fun and friendly youth club, weekend and school holiday scheme for 12-18 year olds with disabilities and complex needs.

Sarah, an energetic and sociable 12-year-old with Down’s Syndrome, enjoys the variety of activities on offer and the chance to mix with other children her own age.

For her mother, Venita, it is not only a chance for some valuable hours during which she can catch up on all that is required to run a home but has brought with it the friendship and vital support of other parents with similar home lives.

“Sarah has been coming to the YMCA for years now,” says Venita. “She began with the Yippee playscheme at the age of 5 and transitioned up to Yip4Youth earlier this year, settling in right from the start. Some of her friends from school come here too and she absolutely loves the staff.”

Sarah enjoys trips out to go bowling, swimming and cycling as she loves being active and busy.

“Sarah isn’t a great sleeper and so our nights can be quite disturbed,” explains Venita. “All parents know how hard it is to keep children entertained constantly during school holidays and, on top of a lack of sleep, this can be especially hard. It’s wonderful that she can try so many different age-appropriate activities with Yip4Youth, while mixing with other children of similar abilities.”

Venita met her closest friend through their shared experiences at YMCA East Surrey. She attends organised coffee mornings and supports Face2Face, our volunteer-led group of parents and carers who have a child or young person with a disability. The group offers friendship to other parents or carers of children with additional needs or disabilities.

“It’s impossible to explain the relief of being able to talk and share information with someone who really understands what you are going through,” says Venita. “It means an enormous amount.”

YMCA East Surrey has supported Sarah’s family through various milestones over the years and her parents are both very grateful.

“Yip4Youth gives us all the opportunity to enjoy some quality time of our own,” says Venita. “We know that Sarah is safe and happy and taking part in the kind of activities which other children take for granted.”

“Life would be so different without the YMCA – it provides an invaluable service for our family.”

Read more about Yip4Youth