Action Deaf Youth has received a £675,304 grant from Big Lottery Fund’s Supporting Families programme for their five-year ‘Supporting Families of Deaf Children through Active Play’ project.
Over £6 million in Reaching Out Supporting Families grants was announced to nine groups including Action Deaf Youth , Artillery Youth-Centre, Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre, Kids Together West Belfast, Northern Ireland Hospice , Positive Futures, Sense: the UK deafblind charity, South Tyrone Empowerment Programme and the Speedwell Trust2. More details here.
The Action Deaf Youth project helps families with a deaf child up to the age of eight through specialist play to improve their communication skills and relationships. Children take part in group and one-to-one play therapy activities with their peers. Parents also learn about play therapy so they can use the techniques at home, and have access to a play training resource and DVD, which a parents’ forum is helping to develop.
Families from across Northern Ireland can access the project’s services at locations in Belfast, Craigavon and Omagh. Action Deaf Youth is working with Play Therapy UK, PlayBoard NI and The Nest on the project.
Wendy Newbronner, is a parent to three deaf children, Rhys, Dean and Carter and explains how Action Deaf Youth’s active play projects help families.
We faced many challenges especially in terms of summer schemes and after school clubs because the children were deaf but Rhys also had additional needs and the support he needed just wasn’t available. It was frustrating for us and for Rhys.
With Carter, he was in a playgroup but the girl that volunteered to support him left, so then Carter could no longer go. That was difficult and I felt disappointed because we had experienced this before with Rhys and Dean and things should have improved.
Our first contact with Action Deaf Youth was when we received a leaflet from the school. We contacted Caitriona Fox, the youth worker and she came to our home to give us the information and she met the family. We were instantly put at ease by Caitriona that the children’s club would cater for what Rhys needed. Rhys got started and absolutely loved it, Dean joined a few years later, and my third child, Carter was eager to go to and he was able to when he became the right age. Having this was a tremendous benefit to the family as we felt comfortable that Rhys and Dean were in their care and we didn’t have to hover around. It meant I could have two hours to get on with other things without having to bring the children and upset their routine. The kids really enjoyed it and they have been to so many different places and have gained experiences that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to before. It was such a great benefit to Rhys, Dean and now Carter too.
This project funded by the Big Lottery Fund is a great benefit to many families. Having play therapy is wonderful and a lot of new parents are going to get a lot out of this. I am an experienced Mum, I have had three deaf children so I have learned through the years but that is not to say I cannot learn more through this new project.
It is so important because children do find themselves isolated because of their deafness, and parents can feel overwhelmed. Some families have been luckier than others. My children have been very lucky to be involved with Action Deaf Youth. This project will reduce isolation for the children whilst helping the parents to connect with them.