Making Memories… Giving Hope

Overcoming Challenges


For many of the young people referred to CHICKS, just the thought of coming on a respite break can be a challenge. It can be a scary proposition to spend even a short period of time away from their family, home and school, let alone take on the new faces, environment and activities they’re faced with on a CHICKS break.

CHICKS Respite Break Leaders are dedicated to supporting these children. Oly Boyce, CHICKS Training and Support Officer, explained: “We focus on stretching the children as individuals and use praise and encouragement to support them. All the young people are listened to and encouraged to express their feelings. We will support them to take steps to overcome their fears, but they can also opt out of activities if they‘re too much.”

Oly recalled an example of a horse-riding experience where one of the boys had never even seen a horse in real life before: “He tried getting on a horse to begin with,” explained Oly, “but was too nervous, asking to get off again immediately. He was encouraged to try grooming the pony first and when asked again if he wanted to give horse riding another go, he hesitantly said yes. By the end of the session he was trotting and was so pleased with himself!”

Oly explained: “When a child doesn’t have confidence in themselves it’s often because they don’t know what is expected of them. They will feel apprehensive because they might not understand what the activity is and what they need to do, and worry that they might fail. This is where small steps of encouragement and praise come in.”

When a group of young people were taken rock climbing Kate, CHICKS Respite Break Leader, said: “The majority of the group were really nervous but they all supported each other. There were times where the whole group would stop what they were doing to watch one of their peers, offering words of encouragement like ‘You’re doing so well!’ or ‘Try this…’. When they eventually reached the top, the whole group would cheer.”

The CHICKS team hopes that by supporting these young people to overcome even the smallest of challenges, we will give them the chance to believe they can achieve more than they ever thought possible.

Ellie, 13

Young carer Ellie arrived at CHICKS extremely anxious about being separated from her mum and was very quiet the first evening, choosing to get lost in the adventures of her favourite book. It was on Tuesday afternoon during an adventurous activity of abseiling that she started to come out of her shell. Ellie saw others around her being nervous, but used her kind and caring nature to offer them words of support and encouragement. This helped her form new friendships and from this point on she could be seen laughing and giggling with new friends. Ellie grew in confidence and started to throw herself into all the activities on offer. On Thursday the group went river rafting. Shelby said that this was something she previously would have been nervous of, but she absolutely loved it!

On Thursday evening during best bit of the day Ellie thanked everyone at CHICKS for making it such a good week. She said “I want to first thank the CHICKS staff and volunteers because without them we couldn’t have had this week, and they don’t have to give up their time. And I want to thank everyone else because this week wouldn’t have been the same without them”.

Ellie is returned home a much more confident, bubbly young lady.

Charlie, 11

Charlie arrived at CHICKS and initially found it quite difficult. He didn’t want to join in games and started to pull himself away from the group. The next morning the group went rock climbing and Charlie was convinced he wouldn’t be able to do it. On his first attempt he made it all the way up to the top of the wall and was so proud of himself. He started to interact with the adults and as the days went by he became a different child; conquering his fears of abseiling, drop slides and didn’t show any of the challenging behaviours from the beginning of the week. At the end of the week Charlie said that this week was finishing the week saying it was ‘the best’.

If you know a child who faces challenges at home and would benefit from a break at our Derbyshire retreat please get in touch with our Young Person’s Hub by emailing or calling 01822 811020.

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