STAND North Wales Youth Zone is an online youth club for young people aged 12 to 18 who have a range of learning or social challenges such as autism, ADHD, severe anxiety, selective mutism and hearing loss. Each of these can impact on the young person's ability to communicate with others and develop meaningful relationships.
The group is supported to plan each session with time to chat and have fun through games, quizzes and activities such as listening to music and singing along. There is also a mindfulness session to help the young people relax. The Youth Zone is structured to ensure that young people can both chat verbally and also use the 'chat room' function if they are struggling to talk after a challenging day. It offers a safe and supportive space to share joys and troubles and receive peer and youth worker support.
The Youth Zone buzzes weekly with verbal chat and typed chat room conversations and all young people now keep their cameras turned on which is very rewarding due to the social anxieties initially expressed by parents and professionals of the young people. Judges acknowledged that increasing participation and encouraging empowerment are huge achievements for this group, which shows great potential for the future.