Active8 was set up by a social worker who worked for the Disabled Children team, on the request of a young man with a physical disability, who asked her to arrange for him to meet with other young people who faced similar challenges to him.
A residential programme of 24 weekends over 2 years was started, giving young people with physical disabilities an opportunity to meet up and try a range of exciting, challenging activities. Activities include surfing, sailing, abseiling, disability sports such as wheelchair football and basketball, Arts and Crafts and Musical activities. Via this programme, young people discover that they can achieve what they never thought possible, and this filters into their everyday lives, where they become more independent and autonomous.
It became evident that once this programme had finished, many young people still needed support to continue their journey to full autonomy. Employment, independent living, independent use of public transport, continued access to friendship and new opportunities were still areas that young people need support with. In the last year, this group has helped organise a trip to the ParaAthletics in London, cookery classes at Rick Stein and Café CHAOS, a theatre trip, visiting the Maritime Museum’s Tattoo exhibition, organising and attending a weekend trip to Butlins and a fundraising bucket collection on the Torpoint ferry. This group also supports organisations to become more accessible, the group was invited to visit the Bristol museum to give feedback on how accessible the interior of the Museum was. They were also invited to look at a new accessible holiday home facility in Cornwall and provide feedback.
Over the years, Active8 has made a huge difference to young people’s lives. One young man attended the ParaOlympics in London in 2012 with Active8. He returned determined to be an athlete. He swapped courses from IT to Sport and despite having no racing chairs, facilities or coaches in Cornwall at the time, he decided to take up wheelchair racing. He is currently the 800m and 1500m European champion in his category of wheelchair racing and is undertaking a degree in Disability Sport.
Another young woman was advised by her Careers Adviser at school that she should become a call centre operative as this would ensure she could sit down all day. Active8 supported her to pursue her aspiration of becoming a primary school teacher; she went to University and now is a qualified teacher.
Another young man wanted to live independently and when his mother became unwell with cancer, it was felt by all family members, that the time had come to make this move. Active8 supported the young man to gain a flat of his own and supported him to employ a care agency to support him.
Active8 works with parent carers as well as young people. Our youth worker often facilitates productive communication between the young people and their parents. Active8 also get the parents together regularly for peer support and friendship.