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Challengers - Angela's Story

Angela Paxton, mum of Bethany, explains the impact that Challengers has made on their lives.

‍Challengers provide exciting, challenging, and most importantly, inclusive play and leisure activities for children and young people with disabilities. 86% of disabled children don’t have access to regular play or leisure activities and Challengers aim to reduce this number, supporting over 1,400 individuals across Guildford and the surrounding areas. COINS Foundation is delighted to be a long-term partner, but there are many other opportunities to get involved with this fantastic organisation, including; paid roles, volunteering and fundraising activities – take a look at their page to find out more.

Challengers is an extremely important part of our life as a family and preventing us all from being isolated within our community. Challengers and all staff we have interacted with are professional, non-judgemental and extremely supportive. They know and understand Beth extremely well and we couldn’t live without it.

The location is ideal within Andover as our nearest other schemes are a 45-minute drive away. Activities are varied and cater to all the wide variety of needs and interests that all the young people in the scheme have. Activities are differentiated slightly for varied needs of children and there is always interesting and stimulating alternatives within each week to meet the needs of everyone. (Not an easy task.)

How Challengers has helped us

Challengers is efficient and consistent, which is exactly what disabled children and their families need when daily life is already so challenging. All staff are trained to a high level and Challengers truly is the most reliable dependable and consistent option we have in Test Valley where we have very few support choices and activities for our children. It took 12 months on a waiting list with CAMHS to get the therapy we needed, and Challengers helped keep us sane and together as a family during that time.

Challengers has given our family support, advice, opportunities and above all else, hope. Beth never engaged with mainstream activities for more than a few months but has remained happy and engaged with Challengers for 2 and a half years. We have seen her confidence grow and her social development progress. I believe this is solely due to the professional approach Challengers has and the deep understanding of her needs and how to meet them.

Beth has an awareness of other disabled children’s needs because of Challengers and the way the staff communicate with the kids. I believe the community has provided support because of Challengers – for example, CAMHS. Challengers staff have gone above and beyond to support referrals, share information and attend appointments as needed. Challengers staff contributed to Beth’s EHCP assessment, which we got, and with this support we have been able to get Beth into a special school.

We also appreciate the respite we are able to get as parents. It means we are in a better position to meet her needs and cope better for the rest of the week. We have been less isolated and more supported as a family. It also means my husband can continue to work as there is absolutely no child care alternatives for older disabled teens that cannot manage or be left without supportive adults and supervision.

Why Challengers is so important to us

If we did not have Challengers there would be no opportunities for Beth to socialise and have new experiences and develop the way she does because of her age, and the fact she needs such close supervision and support, which at age 15 isn’t offered widely within communities. Her needs are understood and met effectively and communication with Challengers is amazing.

In our world without Challengers Beth would be very withdrawn and isolated with little to no opportunities to engage in the community. Unfortunately, mainstream activities just aren’t catered to disability, especially hidden disability, and in our experience have left Beth depressed, distressed and frustrated. We get nothing but smiles and laughter with Challengers and when she isn’t there, she looks forward to going.

“They know and understand Beth extremely well and we couldn’t live without it.” – Angela Paxton


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