The annual Young Adult Kidney Group weekend goes virtual
- 06 Dec 2020
NOTE: This article was first published in Winter 2020 in Issue 9 of our Kidney Matters magazine
Every year Kidney Care UK funds a residential Young Adult Kidney Weekend aimed at 18-30 year olds with chronic kidney disease (CKD). More recently we have been going to Mount Cook Adventure Centre in Derbyshire, an accessible hostel on the outskirts of the Peak District, providing a host of events from the dreaded high-ropes to the highly competitive tag-archery. However, by March this year, it became painfully obvious that our normal plans for a residential weekend were scuppered by the impact of Covid-19. Months of planning were in ruins, but the organisers kept talking regularly and we decided to mark the occasion with an online offering; and so, the Virtual Young Adult Weekend 2020 was born!
We designed a weekend to emulate our typical events but in this new digital setting; activities such as the Friday Night Quiz hosted by Khiry Hopkins, the One Big Family art project designed by Amy Parker in which we all decorated milk cartons to create an elephant family (because elephant families always stay close to each other), a huge Saturday Night Social, and the YAKG Gaming Stream on Twitch. Brett Dowds hosted the Diversity and CKD Seminar and Live Q&A featuring speakers Khiry Hopkins, Fez Awan, Birgitte Rosén, Angelica Bråten, and Alex Hamilton (SPEAK Study) who each talked about their own experiences of renal disease and intersections with their ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, gender, and [dis]ability.
Teaming up with the Kidney Kitchen, we showcased a successful live cook-along on Zoom with Chef Paul Ripley cooking delicious Mexican bean nachos and Easy baked pears. One lucky winner of the competition to find the best photograph of one of these finished dishes, will find themselves on-set with Chef Ripley in a live Kidney Kitchen shoot, one day next year.
On the last night we rounded the weekend off with Netflix & Thrill, an online showing of Childs Play using the Netflix Party plugin. With digital limitations we used what we had available – largely free or inexpensive options such as Facebook, Zoom, Twitch, and Netflix. In this way we hoped to include as many young people as possible from the Young Adult Kidney Group.
Without the Young Adult Kidney Weekend, I would not be here, writing to you today
Nonetheless, just because the weekend was online did not mean that we couldn’t get outside. The Out & About Photography Competition encouraged everyone to get walking, running, cycling, out in their wheelchairs or gardens (particularly for those in lockdown), and to take photographs of the interesting things they came across – nature, wildlife, buildings, architectures, landmarks, anything! The competition was won by Laura Brant who received a £50 Amazon Voucher for her beautiful photograph of Whitby Abbey at Sunset.
Richard Booth, who judged the competition wrote: “Firstly what a fantastic collection of pictures – very creative and interesting shots. I have chosen the winner because it made me want to be there, to see that view and I am curious about what it shows - where is it and what is the story behind the ruin? Also, what a great time of day to take a photo!”
The weekend is an essential provision for young adults facing CKD. I first attended the weekend at Ravenstor YHA in 2015, perhaps at one of my lowest points. Truth be told, in my first year I didn’t really want to go, but my Young Adult Worker convinced me and soon I came face to face with like-minded individuals from all over the country, all sharing the same issues and gripes around health, education, employment, isolation, families and relationships. The weekend gives an opportunity for these young adults to laugh, smile, rant, cry, think, and form unbreakable bonds.
For me, the weekend was more than just a brief holiday away; it saved me. In the back of my mind I was already struggling with crippling depression and suicidal ideation – what I then thought was the only way out. Without the Young Adult Kidney Weekend, I would not be here, writing to you today.
If you would like to find out more about or join the Young Adult Kidney Group please visit www.yakg.co.uk, or search ‘Young Adult Kidney Group’ in Facebook.
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