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WOMAN'S HOUR
TX: 21.01.08
Jus Kidz

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THE ATTACHED TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT. BECAUSE OF THE RISK OF MISHEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS COMPLETE ACCURACY.


TX: 21.01.08 - Juskidz Club

PRESENTER: JANE GARVEY


GARVEY
Kathy Manley's fourth child, Christopher, was born with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus, which made it really difficult for him to have any kind of social life. Cathy couldn't find any suitable facilities where she lived in Knowsley on Merseyside so three years ago she started her own Saturday club called Juskidz. It not only welcomes children with a disability but their parents and their siblings. As part of Woman's Hour's Care in the UK month Judy Merry went to meet Cathy and some of the club's very enthusiastic users.

ACTUALITY
We're going to play the skipping game. Cowboy Joe from Mexico, robbed a bank in Jericho...

MANLEY
I decided to start the club because I have a disabled child, Christopher, and I just knew how isolated he was at weekends. I think as Christopher got older himself he knew he was different, he knew his own limitations, he knew he couldn't run, he knew he couldn't ride a bike, he knew he couldn't play football and so he pretended he didn't want to do them things but I knew he did want to do them things. He was very isolated and I felt isolated. And I thought there should be something in my neighbourhood, in my community, and I thought well there's nothing there so have a go yourself. I mean I can't be the only parent in this position.

ANN
There's just nothing in our area at all - there's no parks, there's no youth clubs. Basically when I met Cathy my husband works away a lot and weekends were just a nightmare because from when Harvey would come home from school at half three on Friday I wouldn't see another soul till Monday morning because I couldn't go anywhere with them - I didn't drive, I didn't have any friends who had children with disabilities. And then from the club it doesn't matter how down you are, how bad things have been or how bad he's been, you come in and you talk to one of the mum's and it'll be oh yeah I've been through that Ann, you just learn to get on better. No services has given me as much support as the mums have done in this club.

TOM
I'm Tom, Tom [indistinct word]. Our youth club it's good.

MERRY
What's so good about it?

TOM
I've been painting.

MERRY
Have you been painting today?

TOM
Yeah.

MERRY
What have you painted today?

TOM
I've been painting my house.

MERRY
Your house?

TOM
Yeah.

MERRY
What do you like about coming to the club Tom?

TOM
Computers.

MERRY
Computers?

TOM
Yeah. I do play games on it.

MERRY
So you play lots of games on them.

YOUTH CLUB MEMBER
Or you can go outside and play football.

TOM
I ride a bike.

MERRY
It's fun?

TOM
Fun.

MANLEY
I had a dream and you'll probably think this is mad but I just had this dream. My daughters used to have sleepovers every week and they'd bring all their friends and they'd have lots of fun in my home and I thought I'd love my Christopher to have a sleepover, I'd love him to have a group of friends to come to my house and have a sleepover and squirt toothpaste over one another and raid the fridge at midnight. But I knew that would never happen because I had to sort that out for him. So I had this dream where I'd love to open a place, I'd like to call it like Sleepover City.

MERRY
But this is a daytime club isn't it?

MANLEY
When I went for advice I was told that's a far fetched dream, don't lose that dream and I won't, I'll never ever lose that dream, I can see it happening one day. So when I went for advice I was told to go away and get meself a committee and form a group and get a constitution and a bank account and I thought how do you do that, I don't even know how you do that. So what I done was I got a group of my friends and I told them about my dream and they all thought it was wonderful. And then I thought right, how do you do a constitution, never heard of a constitution in me life? So I phoned the local council for voluntary services and they came out and they explained it all to us. And it just went from there, just grew.

ACTUALITY
What would you like to draw? Would you like green or blue - you choose? What colour's that? Green. And Sophie are you going to draw a butterfly? Yes it's a lovely butterfly.

MANLEY
They sit down and craft if they so choose, they - we've got bikes and that they can get out and ride.

ANN
Specially adapted bikes which we got funding for, which were really, really expensive, so the children that can't ride bikes are able to do so. And we've got the full use of tennis courts, which are really safe, so they can ride outdoors.

HELPER
We do like face painting and cake making.

MANLEY
Because the choice is down to the kids it's what they want to do.

A lot of our children need one-to-one staff and we do have one-to-one staff for the children who require it. We've also got volunteers - myself and a couple of parents - who went into the local secondary school and asked them to come along on a Saturday and volunteer - come and meet our children. And they come along every Saturday - they're fabulous, our volunteers make our club. Our kids love them, our kids love playing with them as opposed to the staff, they want to be with their own peer group.

ELLIOT
I'm Elliot and I work at the club of a Saturday and I enjoy it because I love the kids, they're so loving and you can just sit there and just play and play and play.

TOM
I'm Tom, I'm also a volunteer at the club. I like coming, yeah, to play with the disabled people and to see them having fun.

HELPER
I want to go into nursing and like specialise with children and I've decided to do this because of the club, since I've started working in the club I've decided to do that.

MANLEY
Through here is our big hall where mainly the younger children come and play in here. So the children who want to do art come into this corner. This is Harvey on the trampoline, he loves bouncing, he'd bounce all day Harvey, wear himself out. There's Isaac in the corner, Isaac likes to do his own thing in the corner but he's happy there.

MOTHER
My son has autism and he didn't used to interact with other kids and when he first came I was demented. I've got two children, the 10 year old wanted to be with friends and out in noisy places, and I just didn't like any of that. So when we came to the club my son could be himself.

MERRY
And what's it done for his sister?

MOTHER
She used to be really embarrassed about the way he behaved and she was sort of like you know she was the only person who had a brother with a disability. And when she's come here and she's found other kids who are in the same position and she's seen them with their brothers and sisters she sort of changed her attitude completely now and she adores him.

MANLEY
And through here is our room with our older disabled children, the siblings play. And as you can see we've got various activities - we have games, we've got the computer, we've got the Wii, got the table football. It's a bit quieter in this room and sometimes the teenagers want to get away from the manic big room.

ACTUALITY
Come on, we're all going to play Ring a ring o roses now. Ring a ring o roses, a pocket full of posies, a-tishoo...

LINDA
My name's Linda, I have two children who come to the club - Joshua who's eight and Lauren is nearly 12 and it's an absolute godsend. Josh has special needs, he gets obsessions with phones and doors and Lauren sometimes feels pushed out.

MERRY
And presumably she meets other siblings in a similar position doesn't she?

LINDA
Yeah, yeah, yeah she does and they probably talk about their siblings.

JOSH
I'm Josh and I've been playing with me mates today.

MERRY
What do you like about the club?

JOSH
It's good. I draw some pictures. I have some fun and have some cake.

LAUREN
I'm Lauren, I'm Joshua's older sister.

MERRY
And what do you get out of the club?


LAUREN
I play on the computers and go on games and stuff.

MERRY
Do you think it's changed you a bit?

LAUREN
Yeah, because I used to think I - they were like a bit weird but now I just think they're all the same but they've got a little bit of problems.

ACTUALITY
... you've just scored. Goal.

MANLEY
We have children who come who have Down's, we have a lot of children with autism, cerebral palsy, the visually impaired. We have quite a lot of disabilities. And what I love is some people don't think disabled children can play together and they can. And if you talk to any of our parents today they'll tell you if their children don't want to go anywhere they don't go, there's just no way you will get them there. But the children know it's a Saturday and they want to come to the club.

ANN
If I think now, like Harvey's eight, what he's done in even like a year, you know, I never believed he could be as - I'm using the word good, it's not the right word - as good as he is because he was so withdrawn, so isolated.

MOTHER
Remember when he first started and he just ate all the crayons, all the pens, all the paper, all the paint, all the play doh.

ANN
Geoff, our volunteer, who's got special needs himself actually brought in some magazines for Harvey to eat because he kept eating all the paper. But he stopped, he's stopped eating now.

MOTHER
Yeah that's the thing with the staff, they know the kids really, really - so well that they're one step ahead of them all the time.

MERRY
What do your children think of the club, do they tell you?

ANN
Oh Harvey is - we call him the serial clapper, he's got the loudest clap you've ever heard in your life. He claps when he's happy and 'cos he doesn't speak he can't actually tell me but I know by his body language and by the louder - the clapping gets louder and louder, this is why you can tell he's enjoying himself.

MOTHER
My son used to sit in the corner crying when he first came here and I was like oh he doesn't want to be here and then he started coming round and he just runs in now and he loves it, it's fab.

CLUB MEMBER
It was fantastic - the club, it's a fabulous club.

GARVEY
That was terrific. Judy Merry at the Juskidz Club in Knowsley on Merseyside, much more about that on the Woman's Hour website.



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