Safe pool gives parents a break

11th August 2006 at 01:00
Far from being lethargic or anti-social, children are making the most of the long holidays through a diverse range of stimulating and fun activities such as DJ-ing, video-editing, DNA testing, football training, creative writing and drama workshops

The summer holidays can be a testing time for young people with profound learning difficulties. "There's nothing out there for them," said Claire Reid, extended schools co-ordinator for special schools in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. "They find it really hard to mix with their peers over the summer break. They can become prisoners in their own homes."

Oakfield Park, a secondary special school in Pontefract, is trying to tackle the problem by running its own holiday club. This week 17 pupils, aged between 11 and 19, have been taking part in arts and drama-based activities, receiving physiotherapy and using the school's hydrotherapy pool.

Ms Reid said: "It is very difficult to place these children in mainstream holiday schemes. They have profound needs."

The club, which costs pound;5 a day, or pound;7 including transport, is run by a senior teacher, who is supported by eight teaching assistants and a nurse.

The club also provides a respite for parents. "It gives them a break," said Ms Reid. "This group cannot just send their children off to grandparents for a break."

Tracy Enright, whose 17-year-old daughter Ella, attends the club, said: "I couldn't just leave her with anyone because I wouldn't know if she would be safe. It is really nice to know your child is safe and happy, whilst you are able to do other things."

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