KEEN York is a volunteer run service provided by students at the University of York. Each week we offer free interactive sports sessions for children who have Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities, along with their families.
These sessions often contain a range of activities, including ‘old school’ playground and musical games and fitness focused sensory activities. Moreover, every academic year KEEN York also provides children with an extra treat - a final session that is outside of the University (previously including Go Karting and swimming trips). With everything from musical bumps, to obstacle courses, to collaborations with Student Union societies such as Yoga-Soc and York-Dance-Sport, there is something for every child!
A key component of the functioning of this service is our ability to adapt to the diverse needs of our children; often these needs are communicative and thus in 2016 KEEN York became Makaton Friendly to ensure that every session we provide is inclusive. Most of our active volunteers have completed the Makaton Foundation Workshop, and we offer this every year to make sure that new volunteers have an opportunity to learn. All our session leaders are Makaton Friendly!
The impact of this training at KEEN York has been huge. Not only do our children feel more able to express themselves but our trained volunteers feel better able to communicate instructions, understand complex emotions, and form relationships with our children.
Makaton is used in every activity to clearly explain rules (and to emphasize the exciting parts), reducing previous confusion and therefore increasing the time that we have for fun! Additionally, we also hope that being Makaton Friendly will make KEEN York more accessible to children with communicative difficulties who may currently feel unable to access this type of service in the York community.