The Mae Murray Foundation, based in Larne, creates inclusive environments that welcome people who might otherwise be excluded because they have a disability, a medical condition, or other types of physical limitations.
They are using their £10,000 Awards for All grant to run a summer scheme for young people who have significant and complex disabilities and/or medical conditions. The summer scheme will include five days at Girdwood Community facility in Belfast, and five day trips further afield.
How are they People Led?
The Foundation is led by its members. The people who use the Foundation’s services are involved in the Foundation’s Board and its Advisory Committee. Specifically, this project has been requested, co-designed, and driven by both existing members and parents of children with disabilities who aren’t yet part of the group.
After initial discussions at the Foundation’s AGM, a small group of parents from different geographic areas came together to spearhead the project. They surveyed other families using questionnaires, focus groups, and social media. They also got in touch with local schools for children with disabilities, health trust therapists, and social workers to get input from a wide range of families.
Parents clearly identified the need for a summer scheme to support their families out of term time. They also expressed their concerns about taking their children to the beach for the first time, the difficulty of choosing appropriate toys that will help their children’s development, and how the cost of certain specialist equipment means they aren’t available to many families.
The summer scheme project responds directly to those concerns, and was designed with the ongoing input of families who will be involved.
How are they Strengths Based?
Teenagers who have been involved in the Mae Murray Foundation before will be involved in this project as Ambassadors and helpers. They will bring their personal experiences and insights to the project, as well as learning valuable skills and improving their confidence.
The Foundation has a wide network of volunteers who bring their prior skills and learning to the activities run by the Foundation. In particular, the Foundation encourages children whose siblings have disabilities to get involved and share the knowledge and confidence they already have – in particular when it comes to communicating with people with disabilities.
As well as using people’s prior skills to run this project, the summer scheme also helps parents grow their own skills and knowledge base. By improving parents’ self-confidence and the independence of both children and parents, the families’ overall quality of life will be improved significantly and with lasting positive effects.