Eleven year old Matt attended our Plus Provision Project from the beginning in 2019. He struggles engaging at school and has been diagnosed with ADHD and conduct disorder. To begin with Matt struggled to control his emotions, with stressful situations usually resulting in him lashing out, swearing, and possibly running away.  

In September 2020 Matt was due to attend his final ‘Branch Up’ Outdoor Learning session at Itchen Valley County Park and had already told staff how much he was looking forward to it.  

However, things took a turn for the worse for Matt, and just before his last session he was taken into care. On top of the anxiety and confusion, he was devastated that he might not be able to attend his last session.

On the morning of the activity day, we got the fantastic news that Matt was able to join us! Youth Options staff organised separate transport to make sure he could make it.  Although he was excited to be able to join the group, he was also feeling very anxious and had his fidget spinner with him to help calm him down.  

Matt’s excitement grew when he arrived on site and was told that the first activity would be making bows and arrows with the team, Jon, Sharon and Emma.  This was an activity he had tried previously but felt very happy that he could practice his skills and help others who had not done it before.  

At some point throughout the day, Matt lost his fidget spinner. He was devastated. Matt’s frustration started to grow, and he was worried that he would get into trouble.

Staff and young people came together to conduct a search of the area… but to no avail. 

Instead of becoming angry and lashing out, Matt was able to manage his emotions something that he himself recognised which was a huge turning point in his journey. Instead of running away he stayed with the group, expressed his frustration positively, and remained engaged in the task of cutting lengths of wood for the next group. 

Matt’s positivity demonstrated such a progression, especially as he was already having a stressful time at home.  Matt was given lots of praise and a new fidget spinner was ordered for him as a positive reinforcement of the good choices he made.