Co-creator Ventures is a series that will look at some of the great projects, businesses and initiatives that our co-creators have set up by themselves. First to tell the world a little bit more about what she has been up to is Jessica Starns, from our 2013–14 Star Track cohort.
Can you tell us a little bit about your project?
Dyspraxic Me is a peer support network for young people aged 16–25 with dyspraxia. We meet once a month in London to gain new skills that we find difficult, such as cooking and finance.
What inspired you to come up with your project idea?
Having dyspraxia myself, I noticed that there isn’t much support for young people with dyspraxia who have left education and are looking to develop confidence to participate in sports and life skills such as cooking and looking for work.
What do you wish you had known before you started it?
To be honest, I knew that it was going to be hard work; it’s hard to find young, dyspraxic people. But I perhaps underestimated all the hours I’d have to put in, the stress of it all with organising and promoting workshops. What’s more I am still asking the big question: how do I make Dyspraxic Me sustainable after the funding runs out?
Has social media helped you in any way with Dyspraxic Me?
Yes definitely, with raising awareness of dyspraxia and for promoting Dyspraxic Me workshops. I have a following of people who are interested in learning difficulties and I have gained a social media support network.
How important is it to have a team of people around you in what you do?
Having a team around me is very important. At first I had support from youth charity Fixers to help me set up my project; they helped to make a resource book for young people about dyspraxia and they helped my project to have a broadcast on ITV London News. I applied for funding through vInspired Cashpoint and they have been supporting me with funding and Somewhereto_ helped me find a space for the workshops. In addition, Dyspraxia UK have been offering their knowledge and advice. In the future I hope for young people with dyspraxia to set up their own support networks in their area. As Dyspraxic Me is all about peer support, young people will be delivering sessions. For instance, a young person will be delivering an upcoming cooking workshop on the 12th July 2014.
What has been a highlight so far for you?
I’ve had loads of highlights; being on ITV London News was great! I’ve also been asked to endorse a book called Caged in Chaos by Victoria Biggs, which is a book about dyspraxia aimed at teenagers with dyspraxia and of course, I had my first workshop in February.
What have been some of the hurdles you have had to overcome to get to where you are today?
Making people aware of the young people’s dyspraxia support network when there hasn’t been one before, especially when no one is looking for it in the first place. Also thinking what would be a good workshop and then trying to make the workshops happen.
Have you had any training along the way to help you to do what you do?
No I haven’t had any training, but my previous work experience—working and volunteering with young people—has helped.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s just starting out?
Find a youth charity like Fixers who can help and support you to get your project going.