Children and adults with autism and additional needs who struggle to fit in with normal group activities are thriving at a new martial arts club which tailors sessions to their needs.
Jolene Parker-White, husband Neal White and Jolene’s uncle Master Ian Parker set up the weekly session around six weeks ago and are now looking to expand thanks to the rapid take-up of places.
Jolene and Neal from Hampton Hargate are operating at MPSK in Mallard Road, Bretton, which is run by Ian.
The trio combine to put on 30 minute sessions on Tuesdays from 5.30pm, but due to their increasing popularity the club may need to open more often every week.
Jolene (38) and Neal have four children with autism and additional needs - Charnella (19), Taylor (17), Jake (12) and Ted (8) - and daughter Shantelle (18),
Jolene said: “There are no places where children with additional needs, autism and other disabilities can go to be themselves and let off steam.
“Whenever we go to other groups with children that do not have special needs they feel there are not able to fit in.
“Children with autism tend to have a lot of anxiety, and tend to find it hard to go into places and fit in.
“We wanted to create an atmosphere where people can do what they want to do, and can be themselves.
“It helps a lot being with other children with a similar condition.
“I love the club - it really is rewarding. Children were so over the moon when they first started. Their little faces were a picture.
“Parents are overjoyed they can fit in.”
The 30 minute sessions include pad work and bag work, as well as fun on a trampoline and a cool down session as children with autism are very hyperactive.
One child with spina bifida who attends is even able to kick while sitting on her bottom.
Ian opens up the club on his day off, with numbers growing thanks to the word being spread on Facebook.
Jolene added: “The children and adults with additional needs come in, they do pad work and bag work and are just able to be themselves. The parents highly approve and it has been a great success.
“The message box is now overflowing, and the class is expanding.
“I had another 10 starting on Tuesday.
“I’m looking to get some funding for it. It’s a free class and eventually we will be asking for small donations to cover the cost of running the club.
“The children love it - they ask when they are coming back.
“One mum comes from Deeping for the class.
“I’ll have to speak to my uncle to see if he can open on Sundays for an hour. We would not be where we are now without him.”
Some of Ian’s club members have also donated £80 which have helped buy items including bean bags and trampettes (mini trampolines).
Jolene is taking bookings for future sessions.
She can be contacted on 07469842722.