In 1994 Kangaroos was established by a small group of parents whose children attended Court Meadow School in Cuckfield, which specialised in supporting children with learning disabilities. The parents wanted their children to be able to access similar after school activities and opportunities that mainstream school children enjoyed, so they set up a Saturday playscheme for six children.
Now the organisation has grown immeasurably and currently supports over 200 members ranging in age from 6 to 35. Last year we celebrated our 25th Anniversary and to mark the occasion we raised an additional £100,000 to create some special memories for our members, through a range of exciting day trips, overnight stays and mini breaks.
Our founding parents
At the very first play group session the parents put on their thinking caps to come up with a name for the newly formed group. Looking for inspiration from the children playing, one parent laughed and commented that they were all so happy, bouncing around from activity to activity just like kangaroos. A light bulb shone! And so the group had a name – Kangaroos!
We’ve never looked back and never once thought to change our name because it said so much about what we wanted our children and young people to experience – joy, fun and to feel happy and free.
As the children grew up, it made perfect sense that the clubs grew with them. We started as a children’s charity but soon realised that once children with learning disabilities become adults, there is even less opportunity for them to socialise and have fun. As an inclusive charity, we knew it was important to continue to offer clubs to adults with learning disabilities too. The older ones just don’t want to leave! They feel settled and have made strong friendships, Kangaroos having become a big part of their lives. It just didn’t feel right to offer so much and then take it away once a child with learning disabilities reached adulthood.
Our vision is that people with learning disabilities can exercise their right to leisure, play and recreational activity in a safe and supported environment where all members are treated as individuals.
Bringing colour to the lives of people with learning disabilities.
In the last financial year (2019/20) we supported 207 members, ran 520 club and activity sessions and provided 1,774 hours of activities, amounting to 19,427 person hours.
During 2019 Kangaroos underwent a comprehensive evaluation of all clubs and activities and developed a strategic plan for the coming 3 years. The three objectives were:
Due to Covid-19 we will have to delay our plans and it seems likely that 2020/21 will be something of a holding year. We are optimistic that we shall weather the storm, continue to provide valuable support to our members, and be in a position to commence our new strategy from April 2021.
We receive regular feedback from our Members and their parent/carers about the work we do and this is overwhelmingly positive, both in terms of the fun nature of the activities, the value of the friendships made and social networks enjoyed by our members (many of whom are potentially very isolated), the building of social skills and independence and the value to parent /carers of being able to enjoy a few hours of respite.
Read our testimonials for a flavour of what our work means to the families we support.