STARS – Support, Time, Activities, Respect, Sensory – is a weekend and holiday club for children and young people aged 6 to 18 with complex medical needs and limited mobility, including epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, visual and hearing impairments, gastrostomy feeds, catheterisation and complex feeding needs. We recognised that there was a demand for a dedicated club for these children where the activities and equipment used would be tailored to the children’s complex needs, and where they could play and interact with their peers in an extremely safe and structured environment. Our specialist staff are fully trained in supporting complex needs, including catheterisation, tube feeding and epilepsy.
This group has quickly grown in popularity, with referrals from disability teams and local SEN schools, as well as many self-referrals.
STARS runs throughout the year from the Ashenground Centre in Haywards Heath where we provide a range of toys and equipment suited and adapted to the participants needs including sensory equipment, switch adapted toys, musical instruments, cooking equipment, specialist seating, and a range of computers and ipads with tailored software and hardware. We also have specialist equipment to ensure we meet intimate care needs, such as hoists, a changing table and specialist toilet seating. Sessions are planned to suit the needs of the children and young people, to enhance their experience and to ensure they are appropriately engaged and stimulated.
We also run trips that challenge our young people and are outside of usual experiences. These include fully accessible outward bounds days, from rock climbing, adapted skiing, wheelchair ice skating and dancing, to wheelchair friendly speed boats and visits to accessible playgrounds, as well as overnight residentials. We also run visits to local farms, zoos, theatre, cinema, local community for shopping trips and cafes, plus other activities anyone of their age would enjoy.
“To have a child who is unable to talk, sit unaided, walk or do anything for themselves: as a parent the future can look very bleak. You feel despair, ‘What kind of life will she have?’ ‘How will she have friends if she can’t talk?’
Alleluia! What a God-send kangaroos is! She has her own ‘thing’, her own group, her own place of belonging. They are simply amazing. It’s nice for her to know she is part of a social group, where she and lots of the others may not be able to talk, but they still communicate in their own ways. I see photos of them holding hands etc. It’s so very special.”