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Rosie LeWarde is 25 years old and is a sociable, happy and engaging young lady with a wicked sense of humour! Rosie loves being outdoors and exercising her dog Smudge. She also likes listening to Ollie Murs and Little Mix and coming to the Leisure and Skills Centre to access activities she loves such as swimming and rebound therapy.

Rosie was born with Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder affecting mainly females and very few males. It is present from conception and usually remains undetected until major regression occurs at around one year of age, when children may lose acquired skills and become withdrawn. For Rosie, this means that she needs 24/7 one to one care and is completely reliant on those who look after her and know her well enough to understand her needs.

Rosie understands a lot of what is happening around her and is incredibly good at communicating her needs in her own unique way through vocalisations, facial expressions and eye movements such as blinking to say yes and no. According to her Mum Becky, those who spend any amount of time with Rosie quickly get to know her cheeky personality and find time in her company really rewarding, saying that they get so much back from being with her.

Rosie has been attending the Life Skills Centre for six years. Her Mum, Becky explains that it is the variety of activities that Rosie has access to at the LSC that makes such a difference, as she gets to access things she can’t access anywhere else under one roof including the gym, spa, swimming, sauna, rebound therapy, cookery, art and the sensory room. It is the mixture of physical and mentally stimulating activities that is so unique at the Life Skills Centre and what makes it really special according to Becky. “There are no other day services that have the facilities that the Life Skills Centre offers all in one building and it just doesn’t have that clinical feel like other places, instead it feels vibrant and fun.”

Becky explains that the activities on offer through the LSC help Rosie in a variety of ways. “The LSC helps Rosie to maintain her physical and mental wellbeing and socialise with other people her own age. Activities like art are adapted for Rosie so that she can participate, and being physically active through activities like swimming, rebound therapy and the gym increases her circulation and stops her seizing up.” Rosie’s art teacher Laura agrees, “Rosie really enjoys the social aspect of coming to art class and being with other young people. She loves the sensory aspect of using her hands and feet and just loves to get messy!”

For Becky, knowing her daughter is enjoying herself at the LSC with dedicated staff who adapt activities to engage and entertain her is so valuable. For the rest of the week, Becky plans activities that get Rosie out and about in the fresh air and so the balance of activities between the Leisure and Skills Centre and getting outdoors is really beneficial. “It’s about maintaining Rosie’s mental and physical wellbeing and providing lots of variety in her week so that she enjoys a range of experiences, just like the rest of us.”

In terms of Becky’s hopes for her daughter’s future, her priority is that Rosie continues to access a range of activities and experiences. “It’s about providing variety, flexibility and understanding that not everybody is the same, so experiences adapted and tailored to individuals and their specific needs”. This is what the LSC does so well and why it is such a lifeline for young people like Rosie and their families.

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