Most teens have local youth groups they can attend, adopted teens need a supported opportunity.
WS Special Guardianship and Adoption Support Team and Equine Partners CIC have funding to pilot an adopted teenagers therapeutic peer group. This will provide a taster session in May, and 6 weekly sessions up to the summer holidays. 'Teens-Construct-to-Connect' would allow those young people to embed their progress and cement the connections developed over the course of the project.The Equine Assisted Learning (EAL) environment facilitates self-awareness and emotional/physiological regulation, develop self-esteem and social-communication skills, and to create opportunities for learning about oneself and others. Their parents will also be able to meet together. In 2017 we supported 989 individuals representing 292 families, The Adopted Teenagers group pilot will be assessed and evaluated, and will guide the development of services for this group of young people in West Sussex.
What we'll deliver:
- to provide 2 structured, well resourced, Equine Assisted Learning sessions
- to purchase the materials needed for the young people to construct a large chicken run
- to support the young people to take ownership of the build
- to create a further animal-assisted therapy resource at EP
- to evaluate the outcome of the project, and pursue ongoing support for adopted teens
Why it's a great idea:
Adopted children have the legacy of developmental trauma to overcome. They are hampered by insecurity about themselves, others and their future. Crucially they need to learn how to manage their emotional and physiological discomfort in social settings - hence a peer group opportunity, with structured support, in an Equine Assisted Learning environment that explicitly facilitates regulation and connection is the perfect recipe for growth. We have secured funding to start this project, we will evaluate and petition for support to continue this project - but to keep us running in the meantime this funding will allow the young people already involved to embed their experience and cement their connection with EPs by developing the provision with their own hands - constructing a lasting additional animal-assisted therapy environment by building the hen coop. The enclosure will allow for young people to sit with the hens, benefit from their regulating qualities and connect with their peers.
Steps to get it done:
- purchase the chicken run
- the young people put up the chicken run first session
- the young people put up the chicken run second session
- bring in the chickens
- enjoy getting to know the chickens and getting them used to being handled
- evaluation of the impact of this intervention
Preventative intervention and promoting family cohesion is what the current strategic planning for WS Children and Families service is all about. However with the funding restraints too little is available, and often too late, which results in traumatic family experiences and costly interventions. Developing a service to support adopted teenagers, and by extension their families, could pre-empt breakdowns in communication or support during difficult episodes in their lives. Sometimes there is the need for children to be taken back into care as families and teens struggle to negotiate the teenage years - this is distressing and costly. This initiative has been created by collaboration between local adopters, Equine Partners CIC and WS Special Guardianship and Adoption Support Team. Equine Partners have been a provider for WS social care over the last 6 years, they have trained staff and a body of experienced volunteers. We are ready and able to offer third sector preventative projects.