Incredible Kids – fun for incredible girls and their families
Incredible Kids in Lockleaze, Bristol, is an organisation founded and managed by a dedicated group of parents who understand the challenges faced by families who have a child with a disability or additional needs. With specialist equipment and highly trained play workers, the charity offers inclusive and subsidised support sessions to over 630 local families. It also advises and signposts parents and carers towards available services and provides training in a range of topics, from managing stress and wellbeing to physical manual handling and summer holiday planning.
“Incredible Kids has given me a place to go where I feel understood and not judged. It’s so relaxed and there is always someone to greet you with a smile and a cup of tea. Some weeks the sessions are the only time I get to leave the house and have adult company. I’m so glad that I found them!”
Incredible Girls is a grassroots project for neurodiverse girls, many of whom are autistic, which grew out of a lack of services supporting their specific needs. Girls with autism develop at different rates to boys and often find it harder to make friends. They require specific support that focuses on the challenges they experience as they grow up, including movement, spatial awareness and peer-to-peer relationships.
Incredible Girls delivers tailored assistance to help vulnerable girls and young women to be themselves and bond with their peers in a safe space. Following a successful pilot session for girls aged 11 and over, the charity made this a regular feature. In June 2021, SMV was delighted to support the programme with funding of £4,478, helping the programme to continue for a further 12 months.
The regular sessions have proved immensely valuable to participants who have found the relaxed and informal gatherings an excellent opportunity to make friends and have fun. As a result, many of the girls have grown visibly in confidence, through crafts and activities either planned by the trained play workers or directed by the children themselves. The group is also a rare opportunity for the girls to discuss pertinent issues with experienced and trained adults who can offer them support with some of the complex development milestones they face. The sessions also act as respite time for parent and carers, enabling them to engage regularly with others and take a break from the pressures of life, which is essential in supporting their own mental and physical health.
“Incredible Girls is a real lifeline for our family. The staff are amazing, they made us feel at ease from day one. This place has helped us both with our confidence. We visit every week, I can sit and chat with the other parents and carers whilst she has fun with all her new friends”.
In September, Melanie* started visiting Incredible Girls, but she did not speak at any of the sessions. In December Incredible Kids received a Christmas card from her, which explained how overwhelmed and happy she was to have found the group and to have people who cared about her. She described how both she and her mum had been experiencing depression before discovering the group, but their lives had been transformed by Incredible Kids.
* Name has been changed to protect privacy