Better mental health for young people with special educational needs and disabilities

Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day, a day where the World Federation for Mental Health is asking people and organisations around the world to make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority.

While much of Grapevine’s work with people, communities and systems in Coventry, Warwickshire and wider cuts across different aspects of mental health and its effect on opportunities available for people experiencing isolation, disadvantage and poverty to build better lives – today we want to talk about young people.

A large group of Teenviners and staff stand in front of a tree for a group photo. They are all smiling, some are cheering.
Some of the Teenvine Plus gang on their last day of the 2021-22 cohort

Specifically young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) – some of those most disadvantaged before and during the global pandemic – and their journey with Teenvine Plus, our intensive development programme for autistic and learning disabled teens aged 13 to 18 from Coventry.

Our Teenvine team helps these young people get the friendships, confidence and skills they need in order to mature into independent young adults able to achieve their ambitions.

Last month we received more referrals from local families to join the programme than we have space to accommodate. In the end, 33 young people accepted a place and will work with us for one year.

Five teenagers, one girl and four boys, sit on bean bags inside a large clear inflatable sensory dome on grass. They are all smiling at the camera, some holding mobile phones.
Teenviners enjoy the sensory dome at the Teenvine’s Summer Festival 2022

As we look ahead to the coming 12 months, and to mark World Mental Health Day, we want to highlight some of the achievements of young people we have worked with between September 2021 and August 2022.

Check out the photographs below – a beautiful snapshot of an amazing year showing that for young people with SEND, the sky’s the limit when you have the confidence, skills, connections, opportunities and coping mechanisms in your toolbox.

A huge thank you to the dedication of our Teenvine team for creating a year to remember and a brilliant launchpad to the future!

Teenvine Plus forms part of Grapevine’s #StrengtheningPeople strand of action, helping uncover people’s talents, passions and ability to take charge of their lives.

Sarah from Teenvine and young girl with her face painted in black and white smile at the camera as Sarah takes a selfie at the summer festival.
Teenvine’s Summer Festival

This year, our Teenviners and team have:

  • Planned what they want to do and achieve themselves
  • Added their input to a national youth engagement tour
  • Had a blast at Teenvine’s Summer Festival camp out – pitching tents, choosing bunks, eating countless sausages and enjoying a gaming bus, inflatable cinema, sensory dome, karaoke, facepainting and stories by the campfire
  • Taken a trip to Alton Towers theme park, generously sponsored by Uniper
  • Helped families receive training on their rights and entitlements in conjunction with Central England Law Centre and the University of Warwick Public Legal Education Department
  • Worked with local artists to create their own stall at the Godiva Festival
  • Created sounds in Media Mania’s studio
  • Learned how to travel safely on public transport
  • Been to the cinema
  • Been out for pizza
  • Taken part in boxing sessions in the park
  • Hung out in the park and played football
  • Rollerskated in the city centre
  • Enjoyed summer sessions filled with games, cooking and chatting
  • Taken the train to the Birmingham’s Christmas Frankfurt Market
  • Watched Coventry’s Christmas Lights Switch On together
  • Met up in the city centre to shop and hang out
  • Played games at Geek Retreat Coventry
  • Played laser tag
  • Gathered to look back on what they’ve achieved together.

Looking forward to what 2022 to 2023 brings!

Project update

Since the end of the project the young people have kept in touch and are trying to set up a date to all hang out together again without the support of the Teenvine staff.

Their parents have also stayed in touch to look at ways to support the friendships made.

A mini reunion is being planned for October to see what everyone has been up to and to contribute Teenvine voices to the work the team at Warwick Arts Centre are doing to engage young people in Coventry.