The road ahead for Compass

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Young people with a learning disability and their families could benefit from a new project called CAN Pathways: Dream, Believe, Achieve that Compass Advocacy Network (CAN) in Ballymoney is rolling out in the coming months.

The project which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund will support young people with a learning disability and their families to move towards a new stage in the young person’s life – adulthood.

CAN Pathways aims to equip young people and families with the knowledge and skills to navigate the options available when they leave school and make more informed decisions about their future. CAN hopes this will reduce the feeling of isolation often felt by young people with a learning disability and their families when they move into adulthood and are unsure of the options and provision available.

Caolan McIlvar is a young person aged 19 from Swatragh who has been involved in CAN for a few years. She said: “I was a wee bit upset leaving school because I was worried about missing my friends. I was already involved with CAN so that made it easier. It also helped that some of my friends came to CAN too. I think this new project will help young people to be themselves and decide what way to go next. I am sometimes. It would be good to have a plan. At the moment, my life is good. I am busy every day. I think this year is going to be a good year. I can’t wait. Bring it on.”

Mary Hunter, whose daughter attends CAN’s Best Buddies project said: “Hollie has been involved with CAN for three years now. It’s building up her social skills and helping with her independence. She is making new friends in her community which is fabulous for her future. It’s great for me, and other parents to know that CAN will be there to help us too.”

Talking about the Big Lottery Funded programme, Janet Schofield, CEO of CAN, said: “Young people with a learning disability struggle when it comes to leaving school, leaving children’s services and moving into adult services – it’s a massive leap. CAN Pathways will provide a person centred approach to planning at transition by discovering the dreams and aspirations of the young person and the support they want and need to enable them to get the life they choose.”

The project will work alongside schools, colleges, statutory providers and community organisations to provide accurate and accessible information about the choices that are available to young people when they finish school. The project will offer young people opportunities and support to discuss their individual plans and ambitions and make decisions about the next stage in their life.

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director said: “We are looking forward to seeing the difference this project makes to young people with a learning disability as they move into adulthood. I want to say thanks to all the National Lottery players who have helped make this work possible.”

CAN will start to deliver the CAN Pathways project in Ballymoney in the coming weeks. Are you a young person with a learning disability or a family member that needs information and support around transition? If so CAN Pathways can help you navigate through the process by connecting you to information, support and services. For more information on the project please contact Aine O’Hare, Youth Navigator 028 2766 0774 or