Our charity partner Challengers is dedicated to providing exciting and challenging play and leisure opportunities for disabled children and young people.They do this through their play and youth centres in Guildford and Farnham and through their range of community based projects across Surrey and, increasingly, the surrounding areas. A significant benefit of their service is that it provides families with short-breaks during high pressure times e.g. at the weekend or during the school holidays, enabling them to do ‘ordinary’ activities such as shopping or spending time with their other children.
Since 2005 we have awarded £54,081 to Challengers to help them deliver inclusive play and leisure for disabled children and young people.
One of the children who has benefited from Challengers’ services is Callum. His father, Paul, tells his story:
“Having our son, Callum with Autism has a massive impact on our lives. We accessed Challengers originally because Callum is highly autistic and somebody recommended that I look into them. I was crying out for help and I was made to feel very welcome at a very early stage. Having done that, William, our other son was also invited to spend time at Challengers, to support Callum.
The fact that the boys were ABLE to attend together is brilliant. Callum needed William at to support him, so the fact that William was able to go, not necessarily to play with him all the time, but to be there, to have their lunch together, Callum was more at ease knowing that his brother was running around as well. And plus, William absolutely loved being here. He loves it there every bit as much as Callum does.
They come home from Challengers exhausted and filthy with paints, flour, anything – I don’t know what they’re doing half the time, it’s all kid focused here. They do cooking, make all sorts of jams and they’ve come home with cakes quite a few times. They are always tired at the end of a day at Challengers, which I am always happy about.
We really have to work our lives around Callum and as a seven year old; William struggles with that because he’s seven wants to do things his way, opposed to Callum’s way. But the more we stick to our routines, and the more we have our systems, putting Callum’s needs first, the better it works.
The play that William will do, even if Callum was supported, he wouldn’t want to. For example football, that’s the main thing that William does, the running, physical, battling, having the ball kicked at you, it’s just not going to work for a child like Callum at all. The level of care that he needs to let him do what he wants to do, is greater and he just wouldn’t be able to do it in an environment that isn’t geared up to it like Challengers is.
Without Challengers we would have struggled to cope I think. Because there wasn’t really any other respite available to us for Callum. William is very easy to place he can go with a friend or whatever, but there was nowhere else for Callum to go. I think without Challengers, we really would be in a different place. It got us through.”