PAG (Parent Action Group for Special Play) support local people with special needs by raising awareness to the local authority and other local providers, as well as fundraising and providing volunteers for a wealth of activities and events.
Most of the children they support are not able to access social groups and activities in the same way as their more able peers, which sparked the fantastic idea for a completed MADD Family Festival, funded by the Youth Aspirations Fund (YAF)! A big part of their recipients social learning as they become young adults is missed through lack of opportunity. Thanks to the festival, 18 local families were able to benefit, that’s around 60 local individuals who were able to enjoy and take part in the event!
Mrs Ann Evans, Chairperson at PAG, said: “It is sometimes difficult for families of special needs young people to attend events that the whole family can be included in. Our Festival is for special needs young people, siblings and parents. The venue is a safe and fully accessible venue so caters for all levels of disability so gives all family members the feeling of safety and security. The level of workshops are aimed at all disabilities and special needs so everyone can join in all of the activities during the day. Parents came along knowing that everyone is in the same position as them so it makes for a very relaxing atmosphere as no-one is being judged or looked upon. This means that the whole family can enjoy the day without any worries and most importantly, have fun!”
MADD stands for Music, Art, Dance and Drama and provided workshops and fun for children aged between 5-18 years old living with special needs. These fun workshops and events provide a haven for children to express themselves alongside their siblings. Thanks to the YAF, PAG were able to run their MADD Family Festival, which had a Hula Beach Party theme. The funding covered the cost of the venue, The West End Centre in Aldershot, and provided a team of experienced and knowledgeable professional tutors who delivered immersive workshops. The day was supported by a wealth of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers who worked closely with children, enabling them to reach their daily goal.
By working together, all those involved were able to produce a fantastic learning environment with a safe and enjoyable atmosphere! Families and children worked hard to create masks and headdresses for the production and attended several art workshops, increasing their skill level and providing a multi-sensory artistic experience. Attendees were also able to listen to seaside sensory interactive stories and sang sea shanties and learnt exciting hula dances!
The workshops were spread over the whole day which enabled all families to get involved and give each one a go. At the end of the day it cumulated in a one off performance of dance and music whilst wearing the costumes made by the young people of everything they had learnt during the day.
Families and their children commented the following after the event:
“Really enjoy making new friends outside of the school environment!”
“Enjoyed learning new skills especially in the dance session.”
“Like that siblings and parents all attend and able to do activities together!”
“It is lovely to watch at the end of the day the crafts made, songs sung and dances learnt and see how proud my daughter is when she shows to the audience. The day gave her so much confidence, thank you”
“There are not many opportunities as a family to be able to go to an event where we can all join in together and feel relaxed and stress free.”