The school census of January 2019 indicated that there were 5,445 children and young people attending secondary schools in Pembrokeshire. Of these, 165 (3%) had autistic spectrum disorders and 490 (9%) had behavioural, emotional or social difficulties. Young people with autism or anxiety are just as entitled to a social life as anyone else, but ordinary, noisy youth drop-in sessions are not suitable for most of these children and young people. The Monday Project provides experienced staffing and plenty of resources to support some of these children, ensuring that youth work is accessible (it is free of membership and admission charges) and fun for everyone.
This project helps autistic youngsters to practice social interaction and communication in a safe and welcoming environment. Sessions are tailored so that they are not brightly lit, loud or over-stimulating. Parents and helpers stay to join in and provide the additional support that is needed to reduce anxiety and to encourage young people gently to participate, make new friends and try something new. On Mondays our members are free to express themselves and get involved in activities that boost morale and confidence: cooking, playing games, basketball and pool, arts and crafts, gardening and going into the music studio to play instruments and to sing.
We have been running our Monday Project for 5 years now. Highlights include: - Young people attending who have little or no other social life - Young people making new friends - Young people building confidence and feeling calmer - Young people turning to us in times of greatest need, and us providing a safe place - Young people who are home-schooled having a better social life - Being able to help parents too - Staff development (autism training) and commitment - Amazing feedback and everyone’s desire to continue the project One young people said: “Wow. Just wow. This place offered me a chance to socialise, express and learn when nothing else could."
|Staffing - towards one trained and experienced youth support worker
Autistic children and young people and those with anxiety disorders will report mental health and wellbeing benefits of attending the Monday Project.