Seven-year-old Emily attends the Bluebirds Ability sessions to support with her Autism Spectrum Disorder. Over recent years, her parents have lived with the emotional strain and uncertainty of not knowing whether Emily would ever be able to walk or talk...
19-year-old Cameron grew up in the Splott area of Cardiff. He didn’t get on with mainstream school as he struggled with traditional classroom and theory-based learning.
He became disengaged, would often misbehave and talk back to teachers. On top of this, he struggled with his reading and writing, leading to Cameron dropping out of school.
Cameron found out about the Future Pathways post-16 education programme, which combines educational studies with sport in a unique environment and supports young people to progress into education, employment and training.
Since joining Future Pathways, Cameron has completed a BTEC Level 1 & 2 and is currently working towards a BTEC Level 3 in Sport qualification (equivalent to 3 A-Levels).
"I knew that a course with lots of practical parts would be good for me. The course has made me enjoy education and I’m hoping to study a Foundation Degree in Community Sport & Coaching when I achieve my BTEC Level 3 qualification."
The pandemic meant that higher education establishments could not operate face to face for up to 8 months.
68% of young people said their mental health got worse during lockdown. Cameron, who lives with two high-risk family members, particularly struggled. Even when lockdown restrictions were lifted, Cameron had to strictly self-isolate for an additional 12 weeks.
"Mentally, I was in a bad way. I’d be awake until 3 in the morning and then sleep until 3 in the afternoon. I was out of routine, I’d stay in my room all day. It really brought me down not being able to do sports, see my mates. I was in a state of mental prison."
During the pandemic, the Foundation placed wellbeing at the heart of the Future Pathways programme (and all other programmes). Tutors would provide daily wellbeing check-ins so that students had a safe space to talk, feel supported as well as providing opportunities for students to develop new skills and build resilience.
"Through the calls, I started to feel less down, I didn’t feel like I could talk to my mates so the tutors were the only people I felt I could talk to. They gave me a confidence boost that we’d be out of a lockdown soon and it helped me see light at the end of the tunnel. Even when the lectures finished in June, the tutors would still be calling to catch up and check in."