Thank you so much to you lovely people who have already donated! - whether through a personal donation from our wonderful families and supporters, or the fabulous staff at Aviva who have taken the time to pledge their support to us!
We know these are very difficult times and fewer of us have enough money to spend on donating to good causes, no matter how fantastic the projects are.
Aviva Employees! - Please do continue to support us, we're counting on you guys to help us by pledging your £15 vouchers while our supporters are less able to donate. We'd be so grateful for your help!
Thank you all, Stay Safe, best wishes from the Follow Your Dreams team x
Follow Your Dreams' Play, Stay and Sign Project
Project Background and Context
Sign language systems like Makaton are communication aids that use signs and symbols to help people with communication difficulties and disabilities to communicate, understand the world around them and be understood by others.
Many families with disabled children use Sign Language or want to use it to assist their disabled child’s communication, understanding and inclusion in everyday life. However, accessing formal training in Sign Language, and keeping Signing skills among the family up to date, can be difficult for many families due to restricted time in their daily lives, cost and availability of training, and restricted opportunities to learn and develop Sign Language skills in an environment suitable for the whole family.
A child’s access to Sign Language can depend heavily on where they live, their School’s policy on signing and family members’ ability to learn and practice their skills. This can then impact negatively on their ability to communicate within the family and with others, and to enjoy and participate fully in many aspects of their lives.
Follow Your Dreams is a passionate advocate for the use of Signing with disabled children where it will enhance their communication and understanding, and as a Charity we have aimed to incorporate sign into as many of our activities as possible. Our members have relayed to us a real need for more opportunities to encourage Sign Language use amongst their families, and a definite lack in provision for learning and improving their signing skills, particularly in practical, family-friendly ways.
Our Charity - Follow Your Dreams
Follow Your Dreams supports children and young people who have learning disabilities to achieve their goals and reach their full potential. We understand that often, this means supporting both the disabled child and the family around them.
We believe that communication is a fundamental right of disabled children, but also that families need support with communication skills, especially when their child has a communication difficulty. Our team are passionate about using sign to give children we support access to the world around them, and feel this is essential to enable children to flourish and develop.
Our charity has several projects which all together support disabled young people from birth into early adulthood. Play, Stay and Sign is our charity's newest project that we are so proud of and excited about. However we urgently need financial support to make the project happen in the longer term, and to give more families this life changing experience.
Play, Stay and Sign
Our families told us that they need support to practice and become fluent in sign as a whole family, in order to give their disabled child the best possible chance of using sign effectively. We decided we would provide a week-long residential break focused around using Makaton Signing in fun and engaging ways, for families to take part in
- Participating families will benefit from dedicated time outside of their challenging daily lives to learn, develop and refresh their signing skills in a relaxed but practical and engaging setting. We hope that the residential will promote and encourage Signing use, and that participating families will have more confidence to use Sign more in their everyday lives after participating in the residential.
- Participating families will benefit from the opportunity to meet, make friends, and socialise with other families experiencing similar situations and circumstances, and opportunities to support each other, and share their knowledge and experience.
- Participating families will benefit from the opportunity to enhance relationships within the family unit through spending quality time together on a break away from the daily routine. They will benefit from support with the tools for improving their communication with, and understanding of, one another.
- Participating children with a disability/communication difficulty will benefit from the opportunity to enjoy a unique, inclusive and accessible Sign Language-based activity, centred around their communication needs. We hope the residential will help them to feel more included in a group or community, as well as in family life, and less excluded and isolated by their disability.
- Sign Language will be promoted to families as a tool for enhancing communication and encouraging inclusion and accessibility for disabled children.
- Families with disabled children will feel more comfortable and confident using Sign Language for improved communication, understanding and family cohesion in their everyday lives, and to assist their disabled child to understand and enjoy life more fully.
- Families with disabled children can feel that their disabled child is more content, included and catered for in family life.
- Disabled children with communication difficulties will be helped to feel happier in a more accessible, inclusive and understanding community/society.
What This Has Meant to Families
In January 2020 we held a pilot Play, Stay and Sign event. The feedback was incredible. Here is a small selection of the comments:
“Play, Stay and Sign has been amazing, and such a fantastic opportunity that has been life-changing. My daughter’s confidence, social skills and speech and signing have improved over these last few days. So, so thankful for this, Follow Your Dreams Charity!”
“Follow Your Dreams provides support, advice and opportunities to families who struggle every day with guilt, emotions, behavior, and worry. Play, Stay and Sign has been such a lifeline for some families, especially those who don’t meet up with friends. This event gives families support, confidence, improved self-esteem, memories and hope! Life will always have worries and stresses but knowing you’re NOT alone is everything. Thank You, Follow Your Dreams.”
“Our family’s interaction has improved greatly because of Play, Stay and Sign. My daughter is much more listened to, understood and engaged with also. Everyone is so much happier.”
“Play, Stay and Sign has impacted dramatically on our family’s lives, as we’re all exchanging more with our daughter and understanding her better. The best part is the improvement in communication between her and her brother.”
“The difference this event has made to our family is that we are 100% better in every way, it’s amazing how communication impacts everything! Such a happy time, memories to last a lifetime!”
“Play, Stay and Sign has been amazing for our family’s interaction with others. We’ve bonded over so many shared experiences, and had enjoyment away from the everyday struggles.”
“This whole experience has been invaluable! It is honestly the best, most inclusive trip we have ever had as a family. My son has many needs over and above the Down’s Syndrome, and has may sensory issues. He tends to avoid people and places. BUT... being amongst such amazing families, all using ‘his language’, he has started to come out of his shell and show his awesome personality to people! We can’t thank you enough. He seems to have grown so much in just a few days, it’s incredible! He’s approaching people! He’s signing to strangers! He drew a picture this morning! He seems to have dropped inhibitions and gained confidence in himself. Incredible. We can’t than you enough!”