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Watch: How gaming is helping to build confidence in youngsters with additional needs

PUBLISHED: 10:29 30 January 2019

A place for youngsters with additional needs to learn social skills while having fun, Press Start gaming lounge in Ipswich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

A place for youngsters with additional needs to learn social skills while having fun, Press Start gaming lounge in Ipswich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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Ipswich’s gaming lounge, Press Start, is helping youngsters with additional needs to grow and develop with their own dedicated gaming group.

The Press Start Stars group holds sessions at the lounge for two hours every fortnight for youngsters who have additional needs.

Children can take advantage of a wide range of games and consoles to play on including Playstation 4’s, Xbox One’s Nintendo Switches as well as PC games and virtual reality.

Parents then get the opportunity to relax, chat and network while their youngsters get to grips with the latest releases and learn to work together through multiplayer games.

Press Start Stars began two years ago after Cherese Bradnum took her son Andrew to the lounge.

Learning social skills and gaining confidence, some of the young gamers at Press Star Stars in Ipswich. Picture: Neil DidsburyLearning social skills and gaining confidence, some of the young gamers at Press Star Stars in Ipswich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

She said: “I brought my son Andrew down here just over two years ago when Press Start first opened. He found having adults around him that were quite loud and excitable quite overstimulating.

“I spoke to Paul and said how would you feel about opening a group for children with special needs and they were really keen.”

Paul Grant, co-owner of Press Start, said he noticed a real change in the children from when they start attending the sessions.

Mr Grant said: “When the children first start coming they just sit in the chairs, they are very isolated but now they are playing games together.

Press Start gaming lounge offers young people with additional needs in Ipswich to meet up. Picture: Neil DidsburyPress Start gaming lounge offers young people with additional needs in Ipswich to meet up. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“The most important thing is about building their confidence: before they wouldn’t talk to people, now they want to interact. You can see a huge difference in their behaviour.

“I think having something like Press Start gives parents a safe environment where they can either stay and chat or leave their young people.”

One of the youngsters involved in the sessions is Jack Chambers who said the event had helped him to build up his confidence.

He said: “Even just going up to someone and saying do you want to play Fortnite it’s very easy, just like that.

Press Start gaming lounge on Princes Street in Ipswich opens its doors to young people with additional needs every other Sunday. Picture: Neil DidsburyPress Start gaming lounge on Princes Street in Ipswich opens its doors to young people with additional needs every other Sunday. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“A new friend every day really.”

More information about the group can be found on the lounge’s Facebook page.

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