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Real Stories – Theo

Six-year-old Theo loved our Yippee short breaks disability playscheme from the start. His mother, Laura, was delighted that he made such an easy transition to an unfamiliar environment.

“I had been so worried,” she explains, “but the staff were extremely reassuring and the facilities at the YMCA Sovereign Centre are amazing. Theo particularly enjoys the sensory room and the wonderful outdoor space.”

Yippee is our warm and welcoming playscheme for children aged 5-11 with a wide range of disabilities and complex needs. Theo has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair and is non-verbal. The Yippee scheme provides his parents with respite from the high level of care that Theo requires.

“There’s a huge element of guilt that I feel when I don’t have Theo with me,” says Laura, “but caring for him is physically demanding and my focus needs to be on him every single minute when he’s at home.”

“It means everything to know that I can drop him off at Yippee with the reassurance that all of his needs will be cared for and that he will spend his day having fun with his friends – more fun than he would be having with me!”

This year, 370 children and young people with disabilities attended our Yippee and Yip4Youth short breaks playschemes across East Surrey and West Sussex.

Caring for a child with complex needs can be isolating, so Laura values the opportunity to talk with other parents at drop off and pick up times.

“Yippee also gives me time to spend with my husband,” she says. “It isn’t easy to get suitable babysitters and can be very expensive. Sometimes, we don’t even want to go out. It’s nice to be able to spend time together at home without having to give Theo our constant attention. Without Yippee, we would be far more stressed. Everybody needs a break to be able to function.”

“Theo attends a specialist school, so many of his school friends aren’t local,” continues Laura. “During the holidays, I would hate for him to miss out on mixing with other children of his age and financially it would be a struggle for us to take him on the many fantastic outings which he enjoys with Yippee.”

Theo’s favourite playscheme activities are bowling, bouncing on the bouncy castle and any outdoor water play.

“When he is at Yippee, I know that Theo is happy, safe and having fun,” says Laura.

“Most of the time I don’t even get a ‘Goodbye’ when I drop him off. When I pick him up, he looks at me as if to say, ‘Why are you here to ruin my fun?’. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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