SuperSONIC is for young people with Autism or Down's Syndrome providing them with a club night at their own pace with organised activities (and sometimes outings). In 2018/19 we ran 60 SuperSONIC clubs or trips with 310 attendances of young people with additional needs.
This group continues to be a really valued service by the families that attend. It is respite for other family members, some of whom are our Young Carers and it is somewhere safe, social and fun for the young people themselves. Facilities for young people with additional needs are scarce, especially youth provisions, where they can be independent, be social with their friends and feel like every other teenager.
This year has been a challenge with staff changes at KA, after Victoria left in May, Aaron joined Beth and helped temporarily until summer. At this stage we were still running two groups, one called SuperKings and the other called SuperSonics. Nawaf and Ben joined in September and helped with the running of the Special Needs group. However in December Beth left the team and Annemarie joined in January. At this point it was decided to join both groups together to ensure there was a good dynamic of young people as we started to try and recruit to fill the spaces where young people had moved on.
It was essential through this time that one staff member was consistent for the group's equilibrium. Also our volunteers Bella and Jeremy have brought stability to the group. Chloe and Ellie were also great contributors as volunteers. With limited capacity and new staff we did not have the opportunity to recruit as we would have liked. At the end of the academic year (same as last year) we had nine young people graduate as they became young adults and no longer under our funding criteria. We finished the term with our end-of-academic-year barbecue but opened it up to some other young people, family and volunteers.
Activities over the year followed our tried and tested plan of rotating between chill outs, cooking, group games or activities, table games and puzzles, arts and crafts, and specials. Lego seems a favourite. We also introduced some activities with music towards the end of the year. We continue to focus on a safe environment, building self-esteem, growing independence and resilience and developing friendships.
T has autism and has been attending our group
for the past two years, Mum says that it's a wonderful resource. It gives Mum time with their youngest child; they plan this time together each week and it has become very precious to them. She says T absolutely loves coming to club, getting very excited and remembering when it's on. Mum says "Just knowing that my child can come to KA, where I know they are happy, can be themselves with friends, as well as knowing that they will be looked after and nurtured is a nice thing to feel as a parent of a young person with additional needs."