In celebration of International Youth Day on Monday 12th August, we are raising awareness for the work we do with young people with learning disabilities through the Ashdown Centre.

The Ashdown Centre has been running since 1998 and provides respite services for families of children and young people with disabilities and additional needs. It offers stimulating and fun sessions for more than 100 families in Worthing and its surrounding areas.

Our highly trained and experienced staff provide a caring and safe environment for children with a wide range of needs: physical, developmental, educational, sensory, behavioural or psychological - including Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome and ADHD.

Charlotte Brackley, Manager of Ashdown, said, “Ashdown currently supports 60 children and young people with learning disabilities, in addition to 40 siblings, helping them increase in self-esteem, well-being, friendships and peer support. All of which can have a positive impact on physical and mental health. We strive to offer benefits to the families we support and a range of activities and experiences for the young people to enjoy.”

The Ashdown Centre offers a range of services proving respite during the school holidays, evenings and at weekends for families and siblings.

These include The Ashdown Club, which offers short breaks on Saturdays and school holidays for children with a disability and additional needs including Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Cerebral Palsy and Down's Syndrome. These sessions include a range of structured activities such as creative play, arts and crafts, books and learning toys, dressing up and role play, games and a home corner. School holiday sessions offer full day themed events, including outings and activities.

Zach, 9, was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) at an early age. He’s been using Ashdown for the last four years, attending every other Saturday and during the school holidays, providing valuable respite to his parents.

His father, Simon, said: “The Ashdown service gives Zach a few hours to be himself in a relaxed, fun and safe environment. He can just play and we can leave him and we don’t have to worry. This service really is invaluable to parents like us. Zach’s mum works on a Saturday so it also gives me a break for a few hours to do stuff around the house, or a sports activity.”

The staff are just so brilliant with him and he’s made good friends with them, as well as, some of the other children. He’s a very energetic and physical child so he really enjoys going to Ashdown and getting involved with activities like swimming, bowling and climbing. I would recommend Ashdown 100 percent, they are just fantastic.”

Ashdown Youth Club is available to teenagers aged from 12 - 18 years old with a disability or additional needs. Here, the young people can engage in themed, structured activity with opportunities for socialisation and accessing age appropriate activities, as well as short breaks of respite for parents and carers.

Jessie, a mother of a youth member, said, “Dropping our daughter off gives us such a lovely feeling of normality, and when we pick her up later she always has the biggest smile!  Having somewhere that caters for her needs, and is fun and accessible, has made Ashdown a real part of our lives."

For more information on Guild Care’s Ashdown Service, contact our Customer Services Team on 01903 327327, email [email protected] or visit Ashdown’s page.