Education Minister Michelle McIlveen recently presented the Autism Impact Award to The Boys’ Brigade NI District. The award recognises volunteer and staff training, a ‘best practice’ Autism Toolbox for BB Leaders, an Additional Needs App and Booklet, Autism Awareness Training and other initiatives in place within the organisation. The BB is the first uniformed youth organisation in Northern Ireland to receive the award.
The Minister said: “It gives me great pleasure to present the Autism Impact Award to The Boys’ Brigade NI District today. I want to acknowledge the incredible work of the BB in achieving this award and that of Autism NI in training and empowering organisations to create and sustain a more autism friendly environment for the children and young people participating in their services.
“I would encourage all youth organisations follow the lead of the Boys Brigade to develop welcoming and inclusive services for children and young people with Autism and other additional needs.”
Joanne Keown from Autism NI said: “We are delighted that The Boys’ Brigade in NI has achieved our Impact Autism Award. We were blown away by the BB submission. Their Autism Toolbox for BB Leaders is the best practice we have seen.
“Parents can feel confident in sending their child to BB knowing that help and guidance are in place for BB Leaders to aid them to understand and embrace each child and their needs.”
To achieve the award Alison Irvine, Engagement Officer and Communications lead, worked with BB Leader and Autism Champion Colin Millar MBE, to create the BB Autism Toolbox and other resources. Along with Walter Lambe MBE, also an Autism Champion for the organisation, they lead a team of BB leaders trained by Autism NI. This team will support BB Companies, helping them include and engage effectively with children and young people with autism and other additional needs.
Director for Boys’ Brigade in NI Lisa Keys said: “We feel it is vital that our leaders are equipped to engage effectively with all children and young people in our Boys’ Brigade Companies. We’ve already seen elements of our Autism Toolkit working in practice and we are looking forward to our team of trained volunteers introducing it in BB Companies across NI”.
The BB’s Additional Needs App is available on the App Store and Google Play and is free for anyone to download and use.