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“Challengers has helped me to mature and grow as a person” – Meet Aurora

Young person with Challengers worker image

Aurora Ceccato, a volunteer at Guildford Play wrote an incredible essay about her experience of working at Challengers over the summer. She entered the essay into a competition at her school and won, resulting in Challengers receiving a £1000 donation from the school!

Aurora’s older brother Victor has autism and regularly attends Challengers, which inspired her to volunteer as soon as she was old enough.

In her essay titled ‘How Challengers Challenged Me’, she writes about how much Challengers means to her and her family, the training she did before starting, and everything she learnt while working on scheme.

We’ve highlighted some of our favourite bits below, you can download the full essay (PDF) here.

“When I was a mere nine years old, I expressed a big interest in working at Disability Challengers (more commonly known as Challengers). Over the summer, I made that dream come true. I spent two and a half weeks volunteering at Guildford Play Scheme and had an amazing time there.
The charity, through its multiple schemes, provides daycare and activities for both disabled and non-disabled children and young people from the ages of 2-25 . Challengers is very close to my heart because my older brother, Victor, who has severe autism, has been attending their schemes ever since my family moved here from the US in 2010. Challengers has provided us with care for Victor, allowing him to partake in enjoyable activities on weekends and providing respite for my parents.”

aurora and victor image

“The charity aims to provide inclusive fun for all children and young people. They have a no-exclusion policy, promising to never turn away a child or young person due to the severity of their disability or complexity of the care they require. Personally, I think this is what sets Challengers apart from other organisations; parents can be free of worry as their children will be looked after by thoroughly trained staff. Challengers also takes on many non-disabled children and young people to increase inclusion. In fact, I used to attend myself! My mother would send Victor, me and my two (also neurotypical) younger siblings to Challengers together. I have fond memories of the time I spent there; I always enjoyed hanging around Victor and his 1:1 . That was when I realised that I wanted to work at Challengers – I was in the soft play area of the scheme that I now work at, sitting next to my brother and his 1:1, Laura, who is now my colleague.”

“Challengers has definitely helped me develop skills such as patience, communication and working as a team. I think that these will be incredibly useful for when I have other jobs in the future. I also think that working at Challengers has helped me to mature and grow as a person, and to be more responsible. I feel that my contribution to the charity is meaningful, because spaces available for the children depends on the number of staff working on a particular day. I believe that coming to work gives one more family some respite and an opportunity to rest – many of these children have very complex needs (such as being gastro-fed, being in a wheelchair, or needing near-constant 1:1, like Victor). When I work there, I feel as though I’m giving back to Challengers for all the care they have provided for me and my family over the years.”

Thank you for this incredible essay about us, and well done on winning the competition! You are amazing!

To find out more about volunteering at Challengers, visit our scheme volunteering page.