The Yard is a Scottish charity providing adventure play services and whole family support for disabled children, young people and their families.
Visiting The Yard is a unique and dynamic adventure experienced every year by around 2000 disabled children and young people annually. Our doors open daily throughout the year to schools, families, disabled children and young people, their siblings and friends.
Our role in the lives of children and families is an ambitious one. We aim to provide care, support, fun and friendship in equal measure, whilst encouraging families to let go and promote challenge, personal growth and supported independence for their children.
Our services for families have grown over the 30 years since The Yard’s inception in 1986. Parents and social workers came together and recognised the need for a safe space for their disabled children to play. Three decades on, our flagship centre is thriving and we have begun to expand our services to other locations.
The Yard of the 80s was established as a play space that would become a family and community centre to support children, siblings, parents and carers. In spite of its growth, The Yard has retained this holistic approach, and its ethos of a child centred, child led play service.
We offer a daily diet of play sessions for special schools as an integral part of their curriculum and weekly our soft play is taken over by pre-school children and chattering parents. Our family sessions couple respite with peer support for mums, dads and siblings alike. Our youth groups and young adults clubs run throughout the year and are the starting point for friendships that extend outwith The Yard. They give disabled young people the chance to socialise and try out new things with support from the play team but independent from parents and carers.
We aim to share our knowledge and skills with other professionals through our national training programme. In-house we offer a weekly programme of disability training on autism awareness, challenging behaviour, Signalong and inclusive play.
In the delivery of all our services, we think creatively and carefully, and use materials and junk that others would cast aside. This recycling and upcycling sits well alongside the natural curiosity of children and the creative nature of our staff. It results in a flexible play experience that is child centred and stimulating for all abilities. Our team stand back and reflect as much as they step in to encourage and facilitate inclusive play. Only then can children and young people discover the next level for themselves.
Each and every session is reflected on and recorded, and this consistent practice has allowed The Yard to build a library of experience that we willingly share with other organisations.
Our greatest accolade is a sea of smiling faces across the playground, and children and young people sharing space, time and playful laughter together. Our service is inspected with rigour by the Care Inspectorate and their latest review described our strengths as a family service.
Our vision for the future extends beyond our humble beginnings and we are working with other organisations in other areas of Scotland to share our experience and open similar centres nationwide. We are now running weekly adventure play services for disabled children and young people in Dundee and Kirkcaldy, Fife. We aim to grow these services by working with local families and communities to create The Yard that they need and want to support them.