On 2nd October 2015, the Jack Petchey Foundation held the Crystal Awards at City Hall, London to mark the 15th Anniversary of the Jack Petchey Foundation and the milestone of having invested £100m into youth projects in London and Essex. In a special gesture to mark the occasion, £225,000 of grant awards were given on the night to 150 youth groups specially selected for their outstanding work with young people.
Resources for Autism (RFA) provide practical services for children and adults with an autistic spectrum condition and for those who love and care for them. They provide a range of services including specialist play and youth clubs, music and art therapy sessions, and holiday play schemes.
RFA used the Crystal Award grant to improve the level of service and activities on offer throughout the London organisation. The funding has allowed the organisation to provide items that their group leaders had been requesting for a while, but were unable to provide until now. When staff and training costs for autism specialists tend to be the priority for the organisation, it can be hard to find room in their budget for such items, but thanks to the Crystal Awards they have been able to purchase a wide range of equipment and resources.
RFA were able to buy new activities and games to use in their groups, such as sports packs, toy buckets and boxes, board games and a small trampoline. Every young person with autism is different and has unique interests, therefore the expanded range of activities on offer have helped RFA to find new ways to engage with members.
The new art supplies have been used to great effect across the organisation as they encourage interactivity and creativity. RFA have run several art therapy groups at their base in Temple Fortune, but they have increasingly found that they can use their art sensory activities amongst their groups of young people across Barnet, Newham and Southwark. For those less able, playing with paint is pleasing to touch and creating a colourful picture can be very stimulating. For their more able young people, art sessions are a chance to work together, developing social skills, and creating opportunities for discussion and bonding.
They have also been able to purchase condom demonstrators and similar items which have been used by their experienced youth workers working with their teenage groups, leading sessions which focus on the law regarding sex, sexual health and relationships.
RFA also purchased Oyster cards, allowing young people to travel into central London for sight-seeing trips. These outings allow young people with challenging behaviour who get little opportunity to have experiences without carers present and outside the safety of an autism specific group environment, to enjoy a trip with more independence.
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