Success for Spectrum WASP in raising support and awareness of autism

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A Rainworth-based support group for children with Autism and their families is going from strength to strength and successfully raising the profile of the disability whilst offering more help to more families than ever before.

Spectrum WASP (We Are Special People) is an award-winning group, having picked up community awards from Newark and Sherwood District Council and the Chad’s very own Pride Awards already this year, as well as receiving funding from BBC’s Children In Need and being ‘adopted’ by Mansfield’s Sainsbury’s store as their charity of the year.

The group, which is led by support worker Sue Edwards, has over 152 children and their families on their roll giving them vital support, information and activities to help them face the challenges of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).

“What a wonderful time we are having with our Spectrum Wasp Group,” said Sue Edwards. “We were just elated to be nominated and receive a runner up award in The Chad Pride Awards, ‘Community Group’ Award, and overall winner in the ‘Community Spirit Award’ last month.

“We were just thrilled to receive these on behalf of our Group,” added Sue. “It was so out of the blue to be nominated, but so wonderful, with all the hard work that is put in by everyone, from the Parents’ Steering Group, to our lovely youngsters and all the support the families give us at our fundraising events to provide for so many children in need in the Mansfield area.

“It all goes to prove that what we do is needed and works, which brings in learning, friendships, life skills, workshops, an activity programme each month and lots more with fun and smiles along the way.”

The group aims to raise confidence and improve life skills by supporting the young people to take part in activities they may not have accessed before. The project runs after school, during weekends and school holidays plus holds residential trips during the year.

The group held a bag pack at Sainsbury’s on Saturday 29th March supporting World Autism Day, and raised a magnificent £557.54. The families and staff at the Nottingham Road store also released balloons as part of a Balloon Race, with messages attached to encourage people who find them to return them from wherever they land.

The group have been collaborating with businesses and individuals to collect old mobile phones to be recycled and enable the purchase of a lap top for one of their members.

“We have been trying so hard since last year to collect phones after hearing this could be done,” explained Sue. “We were supported by members of our group, Sainsbury’s staff and The Science Plant in Warrington and were finally able to present 10 year-old Josh Beasley from our group with a new laptop which will give him the support he needs for secondary school in September.

“It was presented by Danny and Louise after the Sainsbury’s bag pack and he knew nothing about it and was just lost for words, but so thrilled.”

The store have been delighted to offer their help to the group which was selected by the colleague council.

“It has been wonderful working alongside Spectrum WASP,” said Louise Taylor of Sainsbury’s. “We have been happy to get involved and help them as much as possible.”

WASP’s Special/Additional Needs Disability Football Team, play at Joseph Whitaker every Tuesday evening from 6-7pm, and have been coached by Richard Weatherer for almost three years.

“Richard works alongside the children each week to help improve their skills and we have an awards’ night every year where each and every child goes up on stage to receive a trophy at a Family Football evening, which this year is being held on 6th June,” added Sue who speaks with great enthusiasm and gratitude for everybody’s support.

“We had our first taste of a mini-tournament at Joseph Whitaker on Sunday 30th March, where our team played amazing and won the cup first time.

“One day we are hoping to have a full football kit for each and every child.”

Some of the fundraising helps take the group to events around the area. For the last four years, the pantomime supported by the Mansfield Hospital Theatre Troupe, have invited us along where the cast always take time out after the show to meet and have photographs taken with our children, which always makes their day.

“This year we took 88 children/parents to see the show which was Robinson Crusoe and it was just a wonderful show and many of our members joined in the fun by dressing as pirates.”

The group also visit The Mill Adventure Base in Sutton to experience fun in the Canadian Canoes and every Friday during the school holidays, youngsters can take part in the Funky Friday craft sessions at Joseph Whitaker.

These are just some of the many activities that take place throughout the year by youngsters and their families thanks to the support given to Spectrum WASP and their own fundraising.

BBC Children in Need provide a grant of £9,216 over the period of a year to fund Sue Edward’s role as group co-ordinator. It is Sue’s drive and commitment to the children and their families that makes the group such a success and enables such a diverse range of activities for everyone to enjoy.

If you would like to help Spectrum WASP or for more information contact Sue Edwards on 01623 795610 or email suzey.edwards@hotmail.c