Who are Challengers?
Challengers are a children's charity who are passionate about providing fully inclusive play and leisure for disabled young people! Established in 1979, the charity started out providing swimming classes for a small number of disabled children in Guildford, but fast forward 40+ years, Challengers has now grown to support more than 1,000 young people aged 2-18 across 14 locations.
Challengers’ mission is to provide truly inclusive, fun and safe places where all disabled children and young people can play, have fun, and spend time with their friends. Not only do children have a great time at Challengers, but an additional benefit is that it gives families an essential break from caring for their disabled child, which can be extremely demanding. Parents can relax, knowing that their children are safe and happy at Challengers.
Unlike many other services, Challengers operates a non-exclusion policy which means that no child is turned away from attending, no matter how complex their impairments or how challenging their behaviour. Unfortunately many disabled young people are excluded from other play settings for these reasons and more, which is why Challengers is so special. It's a place where everyone is welcome and celebrated for who they are.
Challengers delivers high quality training, employment and volunteering opportunities that are developed to enrich the wellbeing of disabled children and young people though leading by example and championing inclusivity. Their services are designed to meet the needs and desires of every child and young person who comes to Challengers.
What services do Challengers provide?
Challengers operates different services for different age groups, each with tailor-made activities and play opportunities suitable for the respective age group.
• Pre-school services operate for 2-4 years old during term-time at the centres in Farnham and Guildford, with fun like arts and crafts, baking and playing on the soft play high up on the priority list for the little ones!
• Play schemes are for those aged 4-12 years old, and these children enjoy music workshops, visits from a mobile farm, or a cookery class at weekends and in school holidays!
• Youth schemes are open to 13-18 years olds, who enjoy trips out to exciting places like Thorpe Park, bowling, pub lunches and accessible cycling!
These services not only enable disabled young people to have fun and enjoy experiences they're unlikely to take part in elsewhere, but they help young people to develop confidence and social skills which are critical to their development in later life. Challengers services operate across the South East, in Guildford, Farnham, Basingstoke, Eastleigh, Kingston, Chichester, Havant and Richmond.
Why are donations important?
Donations are hugely important to Challengers. They enable the charity to break down the barriers that disabled children and their families face by providing opportunities for them to play, make friends, and try new things.
Throughout the pandemic, disabled children and young people have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, which has exacerbated already challenging circumstances. Play is not a luxury, but a fundamental right that is denied to so many disabled children, adversely affecting their confidence, development and wellbeing. Challengers services are vital to thousands of families across the South East, many of whom would not be able to cope without it.
For each child, it costs the charity £180 to fund a fun and fully-inclusive day of play at Challengers, so every penny donated through Vibrant Lives will make a huge difference.
Thank you in advance for your support. With your help, we can bring even more smiles and laughter to disabled children at Challengers.