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We need your help to provide local young people suffering from mental health problems with leisure opportunities, to support their recovery and create positive experiences as part of their treatment.

Following the fantastic success of a pilot scheme funded by Rockinghorse at Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit in Haywards Heath, we want to roll out a range of therapeutic activities across several of the hospitals and respite centres in Sussex that we support.

Chalkhill is the only in-patient hospital for children and young people in the county with complex mental health problems. The unit looks after patients aged from 8 to 16 years old, who are tackling eating disorders, depression and early-onset psychosis. When a child is admitted to Chalkhill, they have often stopped engaging in day to day life, withdrawing from family and friends. This can be a huge challenge for the nurses, occupational therapists and doctors who are responsible for their treatment.

Last summer, Rockinghorse funded a series of trial sessions for in-patients at Chalkhill, including horse riding, dance lessons, cookery classes, and art and circus skills workshops. Staff were thrilled with the positive response and found the activities greatly complemented their clinical work, and helped young people to manage their own emotional behaviour.

We’d like to extend this scheme to include children cared for at Tudor House respite centre and Drove Road residential home – both in Brighton. We are also hoping to provide days out for oncology patients from the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, as well as committing to further sessions for Chalkhill. These new activities will provide extra benefits and opportunities, such as giving children the chance to socialise and spend time away from medical procedures.

Both Lucy and Rebecca struggle with depression and self-harm, and are currently at Chalkhill, they explained: “Although it is not a place where we want to be, the activities provided make the best of a bad situation and encourage us to expand our interests. We can both truly say that we would be really sad if the dance workshops were no longer available, as these sessions are really helping us. The activities give us structure to our day and help us to mix with people and build our team work skills. Although it has taken time, we have slowly overcome our anxieties, and sessions such as cooking and yoga have distracted us from our thoughts. The activities have given us positive experiences that will become positive memories in testing times.”

Louise Bartha, Individual Giving and Campaigns Manager at Rockinghorse, said: “Unfortunately, NHS funding is not available for any extras and the harsh truth is these activity programmes will simply not take place without Rockinghorse. We are appealing to supporters to get involved in the campaign and help us to enhance the care and recovery of local vulnerable children and young people.”

You can get involved in the appeal by signing up to a sporting challenge as part of our annual Summer of Sport initiative. Take part in an existing Rockinghorse challenge event or organise one of your own and help us raise much-needed funds for our Summer of Sport appeal 2016. Click here to find out more about some of the events we’re getting involved in, or you can make an instant donation by using the donate box on our homepage, by clicking here.

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