Hundreds of people gathered to attend the career and advice event for young people with disabilities at New Brighton last week.
The ‘Your Future Your Choice’ event, aimed at 14-25 year olds, witnessed a record number of young people and their families taking part in various activities aimed at improving their future.
It’s six years since Wirral Council, NHS Wirral and young people’s support agency Connexions launched ‘Your Future Your Choice’.
The programme first started out as low-key event in Bromborough and now attracts more than 800 people from both special and mainstream schools, who use the event to shape their lives.
Peter Burgess, team manager for Transition Services at Wirral Council, told JMU Journalism: “Every year it seems to get bigger and better.
“It’s a whole combination of things for young people and their families to start the planning process.”
The careers day is funded by Wirral Council and NHS Wirral and looks at ensuring young people a smooth transition into their adult life.
Mayor of Wirral, Councillor David Mitchell, attended last year as Deputy Mayor and was delighted at how the event has grown within 12 months.
He told JMU Journalism: “I was really impressed last year but this year it’s even better.
“You just have to walk around and see how many different outlets there are.
“This is a comprehensive programme for moving on with your life, I think it’s the one thing that shows everybody has an equal chance in life and to get the best they can out of life.
“I think events like this give disabled people the opportunity just to be the same as everybody else.”
Several local organisations came together to give advice and support.
Eastham Day Centre and Heswall Centre were on hand to show various sporting and craft activities available.
The café ‘Best Bites’, who employ people with disabilities, also demonstrated their cooking skills that can be developed.
Various housing associations and apprenticeship stands were there to give advice for different career paths.
The event was also an opportunity to recognise young disabled people who have achieved a lot in a short amount of time. Mayor David Mitchell presented the Outstanding Achievement Award to Robert Meadows, a final year pupil at Meadowside Special School.
Tim Gleave, a social worker from transition services, wanted to give the award to applaud Robert’s hard work at losing weight.
The 18-year-old was told by a doctor that he wouldn’t live past the age of 20 if he didn’t lose weight. In the past year he has lost 16 and a half stone.
Mr Gleave told JMU Journalism: “Although the school has always been very involved to try and help Robert there was a need for a lot more people like us to get involved.
“The gravity of the situation eventually sunk in with Robert and he was the one who made a difference in starting to change his lifestyle and his eating habits.”
Children Complex Care Specialist Nurse, Amanda Eccleston, at Wirral NHS Commissioning Support Unit, attended for the first time
and emphasised the importance of days like these.
She told JMU Journalism: “Today is really important because transition is such a big time for a young person and their family, if you think about a mixture of their emotions for them.
“It just gives families and young people the choice to look around, plan and ask questions to try and plan their future.”
The event is set to return again next year with the hope of more local organisations getting involved to help the disabled community.