We received a beautiful testimony from a parent, and we just couldn't wait to share it with you. Watch out though you may need tissues!

"In M's world, everything is out of his control: his seizures, his genetic medical issues, his headaches and vision loss, multiple medical trips a day/week/month...operations, medical procedures, pain and confusion. It is all something M knows is often entirely out of his hands and he has to let it all happen ‘to him’. In hospital, he has learnt he has just a few ‘choices’, such as having a general anaesthetic via ‘smelly gas with the mask’ or by injection. Other than that, everything is forced on him. It often takes up to 6 nurses and doctors to hold him down physically (and therefore mentally too) to carry out the frequent blood tests, eye examinations, brain scans and lumber punctures. It is quite horrific to see and M often asks us why we let them do it to him. We have no real answer other than that to stay alive, he has to have these things done. Then M asks us to not do it anymore and let him die instead...he often asks us to just let Jesus take him to heaven now so he doesn’t have to have this body anymore.


Even school is a very negative experience for him. Due to his genetic issues, he has difficulty retaining information and learnt processes. So he has learnt to read letters about 4 times now since he was 3 years old...he learns them and then a few weeks or months later, it is all gone and we have to start again. He hates the pressure of learning at school through sitting down at desks, writing when he doesn’t know what letters to use to represent his thoughts. He hates the noise, the lack of movement, the reliance on written words he cannot access. He hates the lack of family that he relies on now as his only security and constant. He passionately begs to never have to go to school ever again. It is a daily battle physically and emotionally. He has missed nearly a year of school already during Year 1...and now with coronavirus has missed another section of Year 2.

So much in M’s life is negative, painful, against his way of learning and being in the world. Nothing attunes to his active love of God, nature, the world itself and ‘being in the world’. He learns by being, by experiencing, by doing. Schools cannot give that to him and they take away this passion for being...they make him learn by being still and through written words. Hospitals keep him alive but they do so through force and away from his love of nature: he usually cannot even see through windows when he’s admitted.


Sorry...that was longer explaining that bit than I meant. However, what I needed to show was that ‘all’ of that is reversed as soon as M enters JACS. The sessions down at JAC are M’s reason to live...his sessions give him a purpose to start the week, to breathe, to exist, to be M. I wish you could see his face on the morning when he realises he has JACS that afternoon...it is like a cloud of pain and fear lifts and a light goes back on inside of him.

Why does JACS mean so much to him...and to us...? It is due to so many things. Firstly, M owns his sessions. They are not because he has to, or is made to, or is asked to...they are there because ‘he’ wants them. I guess at some point that might change...but certainly right now and for the last year, he wants nothing more than to go to JACS. They are ‘his’ sessions: not his siblings’, his parents’ or anyone else’s. He can own that time and be him. He also gets to be active and learn through doing and being...the emphasis is always on others changing to meet M’s way of engaging with the world around him rather than making M adapt to ‘our’ ways of seeing the world. M can be M inside and out at JACS.

Then there is the practical element of being outside so often during sessions: outside being as important as inside. There is no feeling of being trapped away from the world: M is encouraged to ‘be’ in the very world he loves so much. The smallest flower, the wind blowing, the colour of the sky, the feel of the horse’s nose, the smell of the chicken food, the noise of the goats talking to each other...these are things that M loves to sense around him and comes back talking to us about for hours after sessions. This is what makes him feel safe, at home, secure and free all as the same time. There is nowhere else in M’s life that gives him that sense of rightness and sense of belonging...belonging to JACS and belonging to the world itself. So powerful.

And we mustn’t forget the staff!!! M’s key workers and all the staff at JACS are phenomenal. The passion they have for both the animals and for the young people is awe-inspiring. M can feel that respect instantly...he is talked with and treated as the main person there...not me or any of the adults, but M. It seems natural to everyone there to assume M is a person as important to anyone else...and actually that is very rare for M to experience being only 7 years old. With that respect comes the responsibility to respect others (people and animals) back and M gets that so much more at JACS through mirroring the staffs’ ethos than he ever could learning written rules and codes of conduct and behaviour charts elsewhere.

Basically, at JACS, M has the chance to not just gain mental health support...but to experience mental health growth itself. He learns about himself, about others, about the world and all of nature within it. He learns to respect, look after, talk about, feel, experience, sense and ‘be’ in that world. We couldn’t ask for more for our child.

So, thank you to all of JACS for everything you do for M – and I am sure many other young people too. What a life-saving place you are."