Meet Anila

Mum Rosie tells us about her daughter Anila, who has attended Challengers Play and Youth schemes in Guildford for more than 7 years.

Our 15 year old daughter Anila has a severe learning difficulty and autism. She’s non-verbal, but communicates well via body language and eye contact. Her special interests are Julia Donaldson books, most Disney/Pixar films, and she also appreciates music – so if you have a good singing voice, you have a fan for life!

Anila first started attending Challengers when she was 8. It took a few sessions for her to adjust to new surroundings, but we can honestly say that since those first few slightly uncertain sessions, she has never once looked back.

When she’s at Challengers, she gets the opportunity to access everything that she loves to do. Her Youth workers read stories to her, spend time outside with her enjoying the fresh air, sing to her, and encourage her to take part in cooking sessions and other fun activities on themed days.

Anila and her sister

The culture of Challengers is one of acceptance and fun, and these values completely translate into their practice. Anila attends with the knowledge that she will be met and understood at her level. She won’t just be ‘tolerated’ – instead the staff welcome and accept her for who she is.

While Anila is at Challengers, the rest of the family gets a chance to do things like going to the cinema, for a walk, or enjoying pub lunches. It gives us valuable time to spend with our two other children which is much-needed. The importance of an organisation like Challengers cannot be over emphasised, as it raises the quality of life for the whole family immeasurably. We moved location when the children were small for two reasons – the first was for Anila’s education, and the second was so that we could access Challengers services. We have had absolutely no regrets with our decision.

As a family with three children, Challengers has played a pivotal role in our family life. The most important thing is that Anila really looks forward to going, and that makes us all happy.

More recently, our family has become involved in supporting Challengers through fundraising. My husband Zahid raised a healthy sum by taking part in the Firewalk in 2021, and his company has become a member of the Business Club. We donated art to the most recent online Art Auction, and our local newsagents also kindly support the charity by hosting collection tins. We do what we can to show just how much we appreciate Challengers and everything it has given our family.