Jarrow youngsters take to plunge to raise autism awareness

Jarrow Autistic Unit pupils at their fundraising coffee morning.
Jarrow Autistic Unit pupils at their fundraising coffee morning.

Students at a specialised unit in South Tyneside have taken the plunge - and had a cracking good time - to raise awareness of autism.

Youngsters from Jarrow School Post 11 Autistic Centre swam in their pool and decorated Easter eggs as part of national Schools’ Autism Awareness Week.

Jarrow Autistic Unit pupils Lucy Lowther and Levi Mason with Awesometistic's Richard Smith.

Jarrow Autistic Unit pupils Lucy Lowther and Levi Mason with Awesometistic's Richard Smith.

Their efforts last week turned into a major fundraising success, with £1,240 collected to support the unit’s future activities.

Around 44 pupils, aged 11 to 16, took part in two main events – a swimming session and a coffee morning.

As parents and supporters enjoyed refreshments, pupils displayed their decorated eggs and set up stalks from where they talked about their interests and hobbies.

Parent and funding committee member Helen Keighley, whose 14-year-old son attends the centre, said: “It was a fantastic week of events.

“On the Monday, some of the students took part in a sponsored swim in Jarrow School’s pool, and on the Friday, we held our coffee morning.

“It included children setting up stalls and decorating eggs, and a raffle was also held. From the stalls, the children were able to discuss their hobbies and interests.

“We are all chuffed to bits about how well it went and by how much money we were able to raise.

“The week was not only about awareness of autism, but also about its acceptance and place in society.

“A few people who live locally also came along to see the children and to find out more about autism.

“Everyone had a fabulous week and we raised a total of £1,240 which all goes to support enrichment activities for the post-11 students.”

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects the way in which an individual communicates with and relates to others, and how they experience the world around them.

The Easter egg competition was judged by Richard Smith, managing director of Awesometistic, a Newcastle-based autism support group.

It was the second time the centre’s students and parents have taken part in fundraising activities

In December, a coffee morning was held, stalls were set up and carols sang.

Mrs Keighley is planning future events, with a coffee morning provisionally booked in for June, with a parent pampering event also a possibility.