Caxton Youth, Westminster, have been using their Covid Recovery Grant to get their members up and moving both online and in-person. The impact has been incredible on the young people, and they are now reaching more than before the lockdown!
Caxton Youth is an organisation that works with disabled young people in Westminster as well as offering respite to families and carers. They provide youth-led activities focusing on opportunities for the young people to make friends, gain skills and grow in their independence. Over the lockdown, Caxton Youth shifted their offerings online, but as part of the Covid-Recovery Grants in 2020 they were awarded around half a million pounds for an in-person and digital hybrid project focusing on getting young people active.
Participation in sport and physical activity is especially low for people with a learning disabilities according to a report by Mencap in 2020. COVID-19 has only made this even more difficult for young people with clubs closing and services limited as they reopen.
Caxton wanted to change this. They used their Jack Petchey Open Grant to launch a Getting Active project – an opportunity for young people to get moving and have fun through a weekly programme of varied activities organised by the centre for 7 months.
The idea came about by directly consulting the young service users and asking them what they would like to see more of in the centre. “At club I like doing boxing with my friends” said one young person, “If I was a Caxton Youth Worker, I would be running more football sessions and sports” said another.
The activities include hybrid online and face-to-face sports and activities including boxing, dance, football, table tennis, fitness work outs and more. To enable the at-home sessions for those young people who might not yet be able to return to in-person activities, Caxton Youth organised activity packs to be posted home, specially designed by a disability sports coach for young people with higher mobility and motor skill needs.
Alex, a former member at Caxton Youth who completed a Jack Petchey Internship with Caxton Youth last year before permanently joining their Youth Worker Team, said: “Over the last year, we’ve done loads of different sports and fitness activities – both face-to-face and on Instagram. We’ve made sure that our sessions are accessible to all of the young people we support, including those with limited mobility. Because of our Getting Active programme, the young people at Caxton are more willing than ever before to participate in a whole range of sports, and the sessions have really helped to develop their communication skills.”
The feedback has been very positive from the members involved, with many developing their motor skills and confidence, as well as using the time to relax.
“That was really good, I feel calmer” said one young person after enjoying a yoga and breathing session, and another reported “I am getting stronger” after a Mixed Martial Arts session.
In July this year – half way through the project – Caxton Youth’s Getting Active Project was seeing great success, with a huge increase in membership since the lockdown has lifted. Delivering around 4 sports sessions per week, they are on track to deliver 112 in-person and around 27 online sessions over the course of the programme. The young people involved have already shown a marked improvement in balance, fitness and stamina through the sessions, not to mention great enjoyment and team building!
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