Vandals target club for disabled children

A youth club for children and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities is having to fundraise to compensate for a spate of thefts and criminal damage.

Vandalism to toys at Rainbow Flyers Youth Club for disabled children. Karen Kenward (owner) pictured. EMN-160920-100224001
Vandalism to toys at Rainbow Flyers Youth Club for disabled children. Karen Kenward (owner) pictured. EMN-160920-100224001

Rainbow Flyers has beenopen for a year, based at Ruskington Youth Centre, and operates for two hours every Sunday afternoon.

It was set up by Karen Kenward, inspired by the needs of her own son, Thomas, who has autism, and offers an alternative for children who struggle with a regular youth club environment.

Parents support each other to offer their children social interaction and advice from schooling to growing up.

But they are being forced to fundraise to pay for new outdoor equipment after a series of incidents where intruders have got onto the youth centre site and climbed high metal gates at the rear to get at outdoor toys used by the children.

In the last month items have been stolen or wrecked. The final straw for Karen was last weekend when a scooter was stolen.

She said: “We have got someone coming in and taking stuff and breaking it. A couple of weeks ago a four wheel scooter ideal for children with dyspraxia and balance problems was smashed up until it was unrecognisable and a kid’s trike has been stolen. If kids are trying to climb into that compound they could badly hurt themselves on the railings. We often find beer cans, broken glass and vodka bottles outside.”

Karen said: “We have some children with ADHD and autism that need to run around. Being inside is fine but you have to have lots of things to do. If it is a nice day they can go outside on the scooters and run. We are trying to fundraise to get new stuff and it keeps being stolen - it is so unfair and we are now short of equipment. It is heart-wrenching.”

She has had to hide things away in unsuitable places to try to thwart the thieves and has opened a Justgiving web page (search ‘Rainbow Flyers’) to raise £1,000.

The non-profit club for ages seven to 25 would like to purchase artificial turf so the younger members can sit outside and play, football nets and balls and help with fencing to the property.

They hold regular events such as arts and crafts and need help with acquiring materials. They are also looking to buy computers and Xbox games.

The plan is also to teach life skills and first aid.

Karen said: “We are the only youth club like this in this area and it’s really important that we can keep the club running for our members.”

l Police are appealing for anyone with information about these incidents to contact them on 101 and remain vigilant to prevent further break-ins.