Last month we received the wonderful news that we had won a competition with The Big Lottery Fund – The People’s Project’s, where thousands of charities competed for a grant worth up to £50,000. The People’s Project’s was offering the funding to help organisations like Wac Arts run a project of their choosing. Wac Arts wanted to run a project called ‘Happy Healthy Independent Living’, which aims to support young people with moderate disabilities in their transition into adulthood.
From thousands, Wac Arts was selected and only five then competed for the public vote and the project funding in the borough of London. ITV came to Wac Arts and filmed the activities and the young people that the project would benefit. Fencing, Table Tennis, Aerials, Music Tech and Animation were all on show and our students loved the chance to show off their skills and talk to the ITV crew about what this project would mean to them.
Throughout February, in the run up to the closing vote on the 13th March, we did all we could to promote and push our positive mission so we could carry on doing what we do best here at Wac Arts…empowering young people, and it paid off! After the 2 weeks of doing all we could to promote the project, ITV filmed us whilst the results were announced. Following much anticipation we received the great news that Wac Arts, alongside two other shortlisted charities, had won the full project funding. As Ruth the presenter announced the win, opening the envelope with everyone holding their breath, the room turned electric! Tears were shed, feet stamped the ground, whoops and cheers could be heard from the other side of the building!
Last week we found out that we had not only won the project funding but we came top of the leader board for London! We won by 449 points with second place going to Keeping Safe with the A Team, a project by charity Advocacy for All. We are all overwhelmed at this news and we want to thank everyone who voted and the People’s Project’s for allowing us to continue doing the things that matter the most… supporting young people to lead Happy, Healthy and Independent Lives!
We will keep all of our supporters updated with progress on the project through our website, Facebook and Twitter. Keep an eye out for more news soon!
What is the Happy Healthy Living Project?
Our very successful work with young people who have moderate to severe needs has made us that aware those with less obvious disabilities can miss out on diagnosis and therefore miss out on the raft of benefits and support that could help them function fully as independent adults in society.
Amidst the changes in the Children and Families bill and Education, Health and Care assessments, disabled young people have expressed concern to us that they are feeling unsupported and fear loss of continuity in services over the next two years as the transition takes place. In addition, the emphasis on independent living is causing particular issues for disabled young people as many feel unprepared to fully live alone. Our work with our initial students proved to be a lifeline for them and their carers, so we are now very keen to expand this work.
Without projects like these, young people are at grave risk of isolation, withdrawing into their homes, rarely leaving them and thereby increasing the burden on parents and carers.
Emotionally young people disabilities are several years behind their peers, but with the help of Creative Healthy Living at Wac Arts we can teach many life skills that will greatly enhance their independence and help some find paid employment.
The underlying focus of these activities will be to help these young adults develop their personal and communication skills to deal with the particular challenges they face, such as travelling around the city, living alone, staying safe, isolation, rejection and anxiety. Wac Arts will give them the tools they need to lead a healthy life, make choices and decisions, and understand their rights and responsibilities, which will assist them in overcoming barriers to independent living.
The Programme of Activity
Weekly Sessions: The programme will provide weekly sessions which offer opportunities for young disabled people to participate in various sports and arts activities such as aerial arts, boccia, climbing, dance, digital media, drama, music, pilates, table cricket, table tennis and trampolining. Young people will be encouraged to plan and lead workshops, developing their confidence and presentation skills. In order to help these young people build up their confidence within external environments, Wac Arts will organise visits to other community centres and leisure activities, such as bowling, swimming, cinema and theatre trips.
Residential Trips: Wac Arts provide three residential trips during the programme, focussed on personal development as well as sport, leisure, arts and creative activities.
If you know someone who may benefit from the Happy Healthy Independent Living project please drop us a line – Wonder@WacArts.co.uk