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Challengers Virtual Sessions – Bringing “sheer joy and beaming smiles” to young people at home

children on video call against orange background

This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week (1st-7th February) comes at an incredibly challenging time for young people. While schools are closed and we’re unable to see family or friends, children are more isolated than ever. For disabled children in particular, adapting to these circumstances and following a different routine can be especially distressing.

For the last six months we’ve been running free virtual sessions over Zoom for young people and their families. It’s been crucial to continue offering support and social interaction as best as we can, while we’re unable to see many of them face to face.

The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is expressing yourself. This is something that so many of our young people can continue to do at our virtual sessions – making an incredible difference to their wellbeing during lockdown. Activities include talent shows, baking sessions, animal visits and magic workshops!

Joe’s mum tells us how uplifting the sessions have been for her son, helping him overcome his loneliness and difficulties with social interaction, and positively benefit his mental health.

Despite our efforts, Joe  [pictured] spent the majority of his time on his own, not interacting with any of us. We were desperately worrying about him. We then saw that Challengers were offering Zoom sessions and thought ‘What’s the worst that could happen?!’.

As we joined the first session, Joe was highly anxious, visibly stiff and silent. I introduced him and said to the very lovely and welcoming leader that we may not stay much longer, or speak, but have come to say hi. When this was acknowledged with no questions asked, his body relaxed, smiles crept on his face and he laughed.

He is now a dedicated attendee, with an hour and a half of belly laughs (which rarely come out otherwise), he joins in with games and conversations – he has even created a new game of ‘Guess what snack Joe is eating today!’.

The virtual sessions may not be the usual your child goes for, they may not enjoy them, but they may just surprise you, like we have been. Maybe it’s the knowledge that he is safely at home, can walk away or shut the screen if he is uncomfortable, who knows, but what we do know is he absolutely loves them, and we love to see the sheer joy and beaming smiles throughout.

To find out more and book on to our FREE virtual youth sessions, visit our webpage.

Our virtual services are offered free of charge to families. You can help us cover the cost of a session for one child and make a positive difference to their time in lockdown by donating £22 here. Thank you.

Monday 1st February 2021