The club ensures children with additional needs get the support and fun they deserve
Bright Lights Junior Youth Club is hosting some special events for its members during the festive season, including a Christmas party and a visit to Jump Giants, with support from the Leus Family Foundation.
The Youth Club, which welcomes children aged five to 13 years old with special needs from North West Surrey, held its Christmas party on December 13, with gifts from Father Christmas and games. The celebrations will continue to December 20, when the group will enjoy a visit to Jump Giants trampoline Park, which has been privatised for them by the Leus Family Foundation, so that they can enjoy the fun of the trampolines safely.
Bright Lights is known for providing a vibrant programme in addition to its on-site offerings, such as fun outings. The children have enjoyed trips to places such as the Isle of Wight, Disneyland Paris, Spain, Lapland UK, Paultons Park, Beale Park and Legoland.
In its weekly sessions, the club offers activities from soft play, arts and crafts activities, books and toys from a toy library. The children have disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Downs Syndrome, and moderate to severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer our members with these enjoyable experiences over the Christmas season. Our party is an annual highlight and seeing the children having some carefree fun at the trampoline park again will be fantastic. Our thanks to the Leus Family Foundation for their continued support.”
Dmitry Leus, founder of the Leus Family Foundation, added: “We are proud to support Bright Lights in their efforts to ensure local children with special needs enjoy all the fun of the season. We also aim to support them into the New Year with the toys and equipment they need as they transition to a new venue that does not have an existing soft play area.”
The Leus Family Foundation booked exclusive use of the venue for the Runnymede Special Needs Youth Club
Children from Runnymede Special Needs Youth Club, also known as Bright Lights, enjoyed exclusive use of Jump Giants trampoline park this month, thanks to additional funding from the Leus Family Foundationto enable the club members to enjoy trampolining in a safe environment.
Bright Lights club is for children aged 5-13 years with special needs in Runnymede and surrounding areas.
The children have disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s, Downs and moderate to severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care.
Established in 1996, children with varying learning and physical disabilities can come to the Bright Lights every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
The Leus Family Foundation is a long term supporter of Bright Lights and offered extra funding so that members could have exclusive use of the Jump Giants facilities.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, spoke of the positive impact the trampoline experience had on members. She said: “We are so grateful to the Leus Family Foundation for funding the trip to Jump Giants.
“The children absolutely loved it and so did their families. It was even more enjoyable for them to have Jump Giants to themselves. It was so lovely to see them all really happy and having so much fun.
“Photographing the fun was a struggle as the children did not keep still for more than one second!”
Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “Our Foundation was delighted to support Bright Lights in this way.
“I believe the pandemic has been extra tough for kids with special needs and their families, as they have felt the isolation and restriction on activities more acutely.
“It was simply wonderful to think of the Bright Lights club members bouncing on the trampolines and enjoying such a light-hearted experience in a safe environment. The happy faces in the photos say it all.
“We look forward to supporting Bright Lights throughout the year, as they do a fantastic job bringing support, learning and fun to those who really need it.”
Bright Lights provides a weekly programme for children who might have difficulty accessing other facilities within the local borough.
The base at Egham Orbit Leisure Centre enables the use of the soft play area, arts and crafts activities, books and toys from its toy library.
Bright Lights occasionally hold family and friends evenings when parents and carers can meet and discuss family matters.
The youth club is known for providing a vibrant programme that includes the use of the soft play area, crafts and outings. The children have enjoyed trips to places like the Isle of Wight, Disneyland Paris, Spain, Lapland UK, Paultons Park, Beale Park, and Legoland.
The impact of the pandemic upon young people brings a renewed sense of urgency to supporting crucial projects around the UK, according to one philanthropist.
The Leus Family Foundation was established by the businessman and philanthropist Dmitry Leus. Born in Turkmenistan and now living with his family in the UK, Leus founded the charity to support children who are challenged by illness, poverty or special needs.
“The guiding principle of the Leus Family Foundation is that as a society we should be investing in every child. Every child deserves opportunity and to feel valued. If we invest in children, we are investing in our future. We know that some children – whether they are born into poverty, have special needs or suffer an illness – need an extra boost in order to fulfil their potential. That is our mission at the Foundation – to make a positive impact on their lives and to give them a sense of possibility. We see that our support is needed now more than ever due to the pandemic and the way that isolation and lack of resources has impacted vulnerable children in particular.” explains Leus.
The Leus Foundation supports multiple organisations, ranging from hospital charities such as St George’s and the Royal Free, as well as Runnymede Foodbank, plus youth clubs such as Bright Lights and Harrow.
“Their efforts with young people who are in danger of being recruited by gangs is vital. They have a real impact, helping the most marginalised young people to maximise their life chances and to enhance their personal development, getting them on the road to employment and building their resilience and well-being. It is a great pleasure to provide the bus as a practical support for this great work.”
Leus’s work with economically disadvantaged young people is not limited to the Harrow area. He is also behind an initiative to get children from state schools in the Brixton area engaged with the sport of fencing. Together with Christopher Tidmarsh QC, Leus is determined to make the sport accessible for all and the duo began this mission in South London. They started by giving demonstrations in local state schools so that local children could see fencing for themselves, often for the very first time. Then they invited 7-11 year olds to attend Junior sessions for free with Brixton Fencing Club so that they could learn together with their peers who already fence.
Leus explains: “Once they join us, if they demonstrate the commitment, we will keep supporting them in the secondary school years. We want them to be absorbed organically into the club and know that they will gain access to coaching and equipment without charge. There is another strong motivation for us. We see the power of fencing to divert a child away from getting into trouble on the street. When a child is training with our coaches and feeling good about the skills they are building, then they are not so vulnerable to gang membership or experimenting with drugs. Fencing is an ideal sport to captivate young minds and build their confidence in a positive way. Yes, you need some aggression to win. But you have to be in control when you are fencing and also respect your opponent. We are delighted to draw youngsters into the rigour and training of fencing, especially when we know they are perhaps disadvantaged and need such direction and passion in their lives.”
Helping those with additional needs
Children and young people with learning difficulties and special needs are also central to the work of the Leus Family Foundation. The Foundation supports Bright Lights, a Runnymede youth club for children with disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s, Downs, and moderate-to-severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care. Children with varying learning and physical disabilities attend the Bright Lights club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time. Dmitry explains: “”We are so pleased to boost the club’s range of toys and equipment so that children attending get the maximum enjoyment out of their time at the club. It is especially meaningful for us to be able to provide two future outings for the children, knowing how much pleasure the children will get from these fun experiences at a privatised trampoline park and Drayton Manor theme park – and of course how much they need it after a more isolated time during the pandemic.”
Dmitry added: “Bright Lights is exactly the kind of organisation we like to work with. They are a small team and they have the energy and commitment needed to make a significant impact to young people who really need this service.”
Support for poorly children
Children suffering serious or long term illness are also a priority for the Leus Family Foundation. The Foundation has a been a long term supporter of St George’s Hospital Charity, with donations targeted at aiding children and their families through the difficulties of illness. The Foundation supported the renovation of a children’s garden at the hospital. Updates to the site include the extension and improvement of the play areas, including a new slide and better wheelchair access. “My long relationship with St George’s has given me a great admiration for the children who are patients here, their families and the amazing staff,” says Leus. “This garden will lift spirits and hopefully provide moments of joy and relaxation between treatments. We were also please to supply ‘Buzzy’ pain relief devices to distract children and reduce any pain when they are having blood tests or injections, which can happen very often during long term illness.”
Leus concludes: “For our Foundation, the common theme throughout all of our work is that each child deserves the best start we can give them. A child does not get to choose their circumstances and when they suffer illness or poverty or are born with a disability, we all have a responsibility to improve their situation, to boost their opportunities. The pandemic and its impact upon young people makes this work more urgent than ever.”
To find out more about the foundation, click here.
The Runnymede club welcomes children aged five to 13 with a range of learning and physical disabilities
Bright Lights Youth Club in Runnymede has received further support from the Leus Family Foundation, with the latest grant including toys and equipment for the club, as well as funding for two special outings for the children who attend the club.
The club, established in 1996, is for children aged five to 13 years with special needs in Runnymede and surrounding areas. The children have disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger’s, Downs, and moderate-to-severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care. Children with varying learning and physical disabilities can come to the club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
The grant from the Leus Family Foundation means that the children can now enjoy additional toys and equipment, including sensory light equipment, special chairs, mats, computers and books.
The grant will also fund a private trip in January 2022 to a trampoline park where the children will have exclusive use of the venue. In the Spring of 2022, club attendees will also benefit from a trip to Drayton Manor Theme Park for the children and staff, with the Leus Family Foundation covering entry and transport costs.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, spoke of the importance of the support from the Leus Family Foundation. She said: “We are delighted to receive this continued support from the Leus Family Foundation.
“The additional toys and equipment will add extra fun and stimulation to the time that our members spend with us each week.
“The privatisation of the trampoline park will open up this fun experience in a safe way for our members and we know Drayton Manor will also be an exciting highlight of the year for them.”
Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “We are so pleased to boost the club’s range of toys and equipment so that children attending get the maximum enjoyment out of their time at the club.
“It is especially meaningful for us to be able to provide the two outings, knowing how much pleasure the children will get from these fun experiences.”
Dmitry added: “We will be honoured to assist Bright Lights further in the future. Our Foundation admires the energy and commitment of the small team and the significant impact they make to young people who really need this service.”