A FORWARD-thinking autism centre in Holbrook held a celebration to mark the setting up of 18 new courses for students.
Students at the Holbrook Centre for Autism are set to benefit from the plethora of new programmes available.
The money for the new courses — a total of £8,000 — came from Derbyshire County Council’s Foundation Learning Project Fund.
Fenella Dowler, deputy head of the centre, has helped to co-ordinate the project with accreditation co-ordinator Sam Summer Rell. Fenella said: “All 55 students at the centre have an autistic spectrum disorder, severe learning disability and associated sensory challenges.
“The fund provided enough money to set up and resource 18 new programmes/courses for our young people with autism to engage in.”
The new courses were decided upon by an audit of the staff at Holbrook, who identified hidden strengths, weaknesses and interests in the centre’s students.
As a result, some of the new courses are creative cooking, hair care, cycle maintenance, aromatherapy, massage, gardening, and office skills.
Fenella said: “Less than six per cent of young people with autism are in paid employment in the UK compared with 80 per cent in the USA.
“We wanted to determine areas of strength and talent in our young people at a younger age. These strengths and talents may then be applied to improve employment opportunities, expand hobbies or interests, and develop skills at a higher level.”
The Mayor of Amber Valley Cllr Ron Ashton attended the celebration event. He said: “It is a remarkable centre.”
Fenella added: “The celebration event enabled the achievements of individual learners to be acknowledged more formally and publicly — and their attendance and reaction to the award ceremony clearly identified this.”
If any local groups or schools want to form a link with the autism centre at Holbrook, ring 01332 880208.