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Case Study: YKids

Case Study: YKids

Ykids work with children & young people their goal is to be a presence throughout young lives, in a variety of settings with young people able to access a range of support, activities and experiences.

At the beginning of the summer, a very concerned Dad approached Ykids about his son, Jack, who was suffering with low self-esteem, lashing out at family members and running away from school. The Dad was struggling to know what to do to help. Jack had previously experienced a number of ‘adverse childhood experiences’, and had been through a few sessions of clinical counselling which were not successful and seemed to make Jack feel worse, leading to a refusal to speak in sessions.

Jack and his Dad live in Bootle, near to YKids, a charity working to bring hope to ‘at risk’ and vulnerable children and young people living in some of the UK’s most deprived communities. Ykids’s long term vision is for the transformation of Bootle through its children, young people and families to become a place characterised by high levels of employment, safer and stronger communities, the academic success of its young people, individual economic stability and opportunities for meaningful employment. YKids believes that better futures and regeneration can come about by encouraging people to become resilient, confident and happy; providing opportunities for training and employment; raising aspirations and dreams for the future; delivering exciting and creative projects and creating a sense of local pride and community.

When Jack’s Dad contacted Ykids and they told him about the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) programme which encompassed the ‘We Eat Elephants Club’, and how Jack would be made to feel part of a group rather than feeling like he had been taken somewhere because he needed help. Jack attended a session begrudgingly, and his Dad was concerned that he would not return after the first session as he had never stuck at any other clubs that he had tried previously. However, Jack really enjoyed attending We Eat Elephants and starting attending every week. His Dad reported that Jack started getting really upset if there were weeks in which he could not attend.

The We Eat Elephants Club carries out a number of enjoyable activities in weekly sessions that include CBT techniques and help the children and young people to explore their own thoughts and feelings as well as building resilience and personal coping mechanisms. Discussions around different scenarios and how different people comprehend and react to them help the young people learn to be kinder and more understanding towards other people and respect their feelings. Activities include making kindness cupcakes which are then given to the local community, creating kindness graffiti with chalk outside the Ykids centre and making relaxation tools such as bath bombs. Session begins with each child discussing the ‘pit and peak’ of their week which is a chance to share highs and lows without judgment from staff or other children.

Jack has really enjoyed all of the activities and his Dad now describes him as “a completely different child”. The school has also commented on the positive changes they have noticed and he has stopped running out of school and is beginning to engage more in school, even in some extra-curricular activities. All of the activities have altered Jack’s thinking and he is talking to his dad more.

Dad believes that Jack is now on a more positive path and will continue to join in with other activities provided by YKids as he grows up. Jack is not the only one to benefit from the We Eat Elephants Club with 90% of children who have attended the club recording that they do not feel as down from the beginning to the end of the club and that they are more aware of how to be positive. Quotes show that children now understand their own emotions better, feel happier, made new friends, and develop healthier coping mechanisms – one child moved from “eating food” as a coping mechanism to “drawing” and “speaking to her mum”.

The CBT programme, including ‘We Eat Elephants was a pilot funded by the Liverpool ONE Foundation for a year, and it has been so successful that YKids hope to continue the work.

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