By Leena Sidat
The foundation’s grant has not only boosted the weekly term-time service but also allowed the club to open during the summer holidays for the first time.
Founder of the Leus Family Foundation, Dmitry Leus recently visited the Runnymede Special Needs Youth Club, also known as Bright Lights, to meet with the children who participate in the club and learn about the positive impact of a grant from the Leus Family Foundation.
The club is for children aged 5-13 years with special needs in Runnymede and surrounding areas. The children have disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s, Downs, and moderate to severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care.
Established in 1996, children with varying learning and physical disabilities can come to the club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
The grant from the Leus Family Foundation meant that the club could also offer its services over the summer holidays for the first time, offering a much-needed activity and opportunity to connect for children and their families over the long summer break.
The club provides a safe environment for children who might have difficulty accessing other facilities within the local borough. The base at Egham Orbit Leisure Centre enables the use of the soft play area, arts and crafts activities, books and toys from a toy library.
Bright Lights occasionally holds family and friends evenings when parents and carers can meet and discuss family matters.
The youth club is known for providing a vibrant programme in addition to its on-site offerings, such as outings. The children have enjoyed trips to places like the Isle of Wight, Disneyland Paris, Spain, Lapland UK, Paultons Park, Beale Park, and Legoland.
The club also holds a Christmas party every year where the children receive a visit and presents from Father Christmas.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, spoke of the importance of the support from the Leus Family Foundation: “We are here to provide fun and recreation for young people with special needs, which can also play a helpful respite role for their parents and carers.
“The contribution from the Leus Family Foundation is helping us to keep bringing this fun and support to children and their families, both during term time and even, for the first time, over the summer holidays.”
Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “I was so pleased to visit Bright Lights and see for myself the invaluable work they are doing. It is great to see these fantastic kids engaged and gaining so much from their activities.
“The visit also gave me an insight into what these services mean for the whole family, providing respite, support and connection, which is perhaps needed more than ever after the isolation of the pandemic.”
Dmitry added: “Bright Lights is the perfect example of the kind of organisation our foundation loves to support. They are a small team with a very clear mission, delivering significant impact to young people who really need this service. The results were visible in the room as I could see the children both learning and having fun.”