Red Balloon - Red Balloon of the Air
Satisfied Red Balloon of the Air Parent
My son Jack was severely bullied on transition to secondary school; he suffered a complete breakdown within weeks and had to be taken off roll due to extreme anxiety and social avoidance. Jack was virtually unable to leave his bedroom for almost three years, he would have numerous panic attacks daily and was unable to see or communicate with anyone including some members of his family. Jack would self-harm on a regular basis and was unable to cope with anything.
Jack was contacted by Red Balloon staff and asked if he would like to help pilot Red Balloon of the Air. Prior to this Jack had become increasingly worried about his education and how much he had missed. He decided to give it a try and was visited by his future ICT tutor and the RBAir Coordinator who talked to Jack and explained what RBAir was all about. He was shown the virtual world and how to use it. I’m pleased to say that Jack responded very well to the staff and was very enthusiastic to start the pilot project.
We have just finished week six of RBAir and the changes I have seen in Jack have been absolutely overwhelming. There have been positive changes in Jack’s wellbeing on a daily basis, he is much happier and more confident and for the first time in almost three years Jack has started to smile and laugh again, which is something I and the rest of his family thought we would never see. Jack is leaving his room to eat his meals downstairs and he now opens the blind on his bedroom window every day, which prior to RBAir had been closed constantly. He is much more talkative and very happy and enthusiastic to share what he has been learning. I’m amazed that without reservation Jack has been able to engage in chat with other students and staff. He enjoys all his lessons and is very fond of the staff and has stated that he “feels very supported”. He also told me that his future looks much brighter. Jack feels he is learning in a safe non-threatening environment and that if he has any problems or anxieties he can contact a member of staff and it will be sorted out quickly.
Jack has started to come downstairs when we have visitors and a few days ago whilst I was talking to a neighbour, Jack went outside on to the street where her children were playing and joined in. All these things are major steps for Jack and very positive.
As a parent I feel RBair is tailor-made for Jack and children like him, and because the children choose subjects they are interested in they are able to be enthusiastic about starting to learn again. The staff are very understanding and approachable and the communication between parents, staff and students is fantastic.
Jack has a wellbeing session included in his education every week and it has been really beneficial for him to be able to discuss his concerns and also to talk about things that will help him cope in the future. All the staff work very hard to ensure that all Jack’s needs are met. Jack is now starting to feel part of a community and far less isolated.
I feel that RBAir is essential for Jack and for the many other children that have suffered the same experiences. I hope that the project can grow from strength to strength so that these other children that are excluded from the education system through no fault of their own can benefit from the positive life-changing experiences my son has had.
Jack’s journey so far with Red Balloon of the Air has been incredibly successful and we look forward to continuing after the Easter holidays.
Dawn, Red Balloon of the Air Parent, April 2011
Parents should contact the Red Balloon of the Air office if they would like to hear more about the pilot and the possible development in their area.
-- Posted by Red Balloon - Red Balloon of the Air on 13th April 2011 --