Autistic Sheffield girls share the difference girlguiding makes to their lives this Autism Acceptance Week

A Brownie unit in Sheffield celebrated the experiences of its young autistic members during Autism Acceptance Week.
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The group – which meets in Greenhill – is proud to embrace Girlguiding’s commitment that all girls have a home at Girlguiding, whoever they are, and wherever they’re from. 

Nine-year-old Skye Mason is autistic and has been a member of 172nd Sheffield (St Peter’s Greenhill) Brownies, for girls aged seven to ten, for the last two years.

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Before that she went to Rainbows, for girls aged four to seven, where girls get to engage in fun activities, play games and earn skills builder badges.

Skye Mason with Kacey BennettSkye Mason with Kacey Bennett
Skye Mason with Kacey Bennett

“Skye is definitely more confident as a result of Girlguiding,” said her mum Debbie Sambrook. “Being autistic has meant that she has always struggled to interact with other children, but going to Brownies and Rainbows has given her an opportunity to make friends with girls from different schools.

“Skye was welcomed so warmly and it has really helped with her confidence. She comes out each week with a smile on her face and loves telling us about what she’s done that evening.”

For Skye, a huge highlight of going to Brownies are the regular weekends away and outdoor activities on offer.

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Skye said: “I love lots of things about Brownies but the trips away and adventurous things we get to do are so much fun.”

Her mum Debbie added: “The difference between how much Skye is inspired to get involved in activities when she is at Brownies compared to when she is at home is incredible. I often struggle to get her to walk to school which is only two minutes away.”

Student Kacey Bennett, 17, has been helping at the Brownie unit for the last two years as a young leader. She was diagnosed with autism when she was ten.

“In terms of how much I enjoy it, it’s a ten out of ten,” she said. “I joined to work on building my confidence because I was so shy and nervous.

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“It’s made such a difference to my life over the last couple of years and I feel so much better. I can see myself always being a part of the Girlguiding community.

“I really look forward to the meetings each week and it makes me feel really proud of myself to be able to help the girls and see how well they’re doing.”

Leader of 172nd Sheffield (St Peter’s Greenhill) Brownies Alison Brown said: “All girls are very warmly welcomed and we don’t treat any of them any differently from each other. We want them all to feel like they belong and are always happy to ensure all girls feel included whatever their additional needs might be.

“It is brilliant to hear how much Skye and Kacey get from being part of our Brownies unit and it was wonderful to be able to help spread awareness this Autism Acceptance Week.”

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More than one in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK, according to the National Autistic Society.

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