Young people going through tough times need extra-curricular activities to provide a vital escape.
Information arising from the KalliKids Sponsor a Child project has shown that as well as learning new skills, the youngsters taking part have found their confidence levels thriving.
And Karen Bach, Founder of KalliKids, believes more needs to be done to help other vulnerable youngsters get access to quality groups and classes.
She said: “The idea when we originally launched the scheme was to give families the opportunity to learn new skills. So much more has come out of it."
Sponsor a Child was launched by KalliKids, an accreditation service for families who need and want recommended services, in January this year.
Through the project, 21 youngsters across Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire are learning a new skill for a year for free. The activities range from swimming and tennis to maths and drama.
One of these is 13-year-old Zoe Smith, from Brighton, who is having piano lessons with Jenni Boyce. Two years ago Zoe went through a very difficult family trauma.
Zoe’s mum, Sarah-Jane, said: “Zoe needed an outlet to show emotion and get through a difficult time in her life. The lessons allow Zoe’s creative side to flourish and provide an escape.
“It’s a lovely thing for a child to be doing. She goes every Saturday morning and never complains about it being too early. She chose piano as she has a keyboard at home and kept playing tunes by ear. Jenni is an excellent teacher and so nice to her.
“I think the scheme is wonderful. I am on a low income and could never afford piano lessons. Thank you so much KalliKids.”
KalliKids represents around 313 providers of children and family services. It has more than 3000 parent members. Each provider has been checked and recommended by parents before being accredited.
Flossie Scott, 3, from Steyning is also one of the sponsored children. She is attending swimming lessons with Wet Wet Wet.
Mum, Sarah Scott, said: “Swimming is Flossie’s favourite activity but I couldn’t afford to pay for lessons. I felt she deserved a treat after all she goes through with her health issues.”
Since Flossie was born, at 26 weeks, she has suffered from a rare genetic disorder called Acrodermatitis Enteropathica. Without twice daily medication the condition would be fatal. She also has a severe vitamin D deficiency.
“Her condition is so rare. Her symptoms include ulcers in her mouth and stomach, alopecia, chronic lesions around her mouth and body and diarrhoea,” said Sarah.
“There isn’t much research done on her conditions, so we really don’t know what life holds for Floss.
“The Sponsor a Child scheme is simply amazing. Flossie has got so much out of it already and we are only a couple of months in. Her swimming has also improved tenfold!”
Sarah Bell-Woods of Magikats in Hove is a provider who volunteered for the scheme. She tutors 10-year-old Conor Walker in maths. She said: “I believe the main reasons our classes are successful is they are a big confidence boost, not just academically but personally. We chose to be part of the KalliKids sponsor a child scheme as we are proud to show off what we have achieved in less than two years of opening.”
"I think the scheme is wonderful. I am on a low income and could never afford piano lessons. Thank you so much KalliKids" Sarah-Jane Smith, mum of 13-year-old Zoe.