Posted by Katie Lissamore, Whizz Kidz
The Co-op Foundation has been supporting our Leadership Award programme and whilst it has been really popular amongst the young people we support, we have encountered a couple of challenges along the way that I wanted to share with you all. As sharing challenges and knowledge about what works – and what does not – is instrumental to improving the effectiveness of our services.
Our Leadership Award is designed to increase the skills, confidence and aspirations of young wheelchair users, helping to tackle loneliness and training them to become the leaders of tomorrow. It is structured around three key modules: Skill development, behaviour change and championing Whizz-Kidz and in order to complete the award, young people have to complete three activities within each key module. Examples of which are; facilitating wheelchair skills training sessions, in order to help their peers to use their wheelchairs more confidently; developing public speaking skills through sharing personal stories with schools, local brownie/scout groups and also taking on leadership roles both inside and outside of Whizz-Kidz, for example one of the young people that we support has recently taken on a volunteer role at the British Red Cross.
Whilst the programme has really gathered momentum and is helping young wheelchair users to build skills, develop friendships and boost confidence levels, we have encountered problems around resource. This has meant that we haven’t always had enough time or man power to encourage young people to reflect, feedback or celebrate their achievements, which is a key part of the programme. Therefore, we have had to make changes and in January decided to integrate the programme into one of our key services – Youth Clubs, which we hope will help us to better support the young people on the Leadership Award. All our volunteers, club facilitators, healthcare assistants, staff and existing young leaders are now trained to support other young people taking the Award and we have made ‘Reflections’ a standard component of all our club agendas too.
I’ll keep you updated on how our project progresses and I hope by highlighting the challenges that we have experienced, this will encourage you to share your challenges and ideas around how we can together improve the effectiveness of our programmes and tackle youth loneliness.