Teenagers and young people with learning disabilities are often unable to enjoy the activities that their non-disabled peers take for granted due to their additional needs. With a Gannett Foundation grant, Watford Mencap want to develop an outdoor ‘chill-out’ zone where they can develop friendships, enjoy outdoor games, activities and pursue hobbies.

The independent charity, which supports around 600 adults and children with learning disabilities in South West Hertfordshire, is one of ten groups across the south-east that has been shortlisted to win a share of £16,000 from our parent company’s charitable arm. How much it gets depends on you.

Watford Mencap provides a range of quality services that are designed to support people with learning disabilities to enjoy the life they want for themselves.

A learning disability is a lifelong condition that affects the way someone learns and understands. Some people may need 24-hour care, whereas others can live fairly independently.

It is estimated that there are approximately 6,000 people with a learning disability living in South-West Herts.

Watford Mencap’s youth club is for young people aged 13 to 19 whatever their level of disability.

The club runs weekly during term time in a safe, friendly and inclusive environment.

The activities it offers vary each term, and include sports, arts and crafts, baking, games nights, film nights, tech, karaoke and much more. The club also marks cultural and personal celebrations.

The club would love to have a firepit surrounded by seating made from logs as well as space for wheelchair users. A power supply would be installed so the young people can play music and an accessible pathway so that wheelchair users can participate.

A grant will enable Watford Mencap to landscape a space that is accessible and safe, where people can be supported by its team to have fun and begin to develop important social and independence skills as they move towards young adulthood.

Fundraising manager Michelle Hamilton said: “To win this grant from the Gannett Foundation would enable us to create a fun, comfortable and sustainable outdoor area for young people with learning disabilities to enjoy activities that their non-disabled peers take for granted. Who wouldn’t want somewhere to chill out in the evening with music and a firepit to toast marshmallows on?”

To help Watford Mencap develop their youth zone project, mark your choice on the form on page 24 of this week’s paper, which can then be taken to collection points across our region or posted. Don’t worry if you miss it, the form will be printed for the next two weeks as well.

Each token collected will then be used to allocate cash to the nominated charity – so if your favourite charity collects 50 per cent of all to tokens collected, it will receive 50 per cent of the £16,000.

Tokens should be sent to Readers’ Choice, Echo House, Howards Chase, Basildon, Essex SS14 3BE. They can also be dropped off at collection points at the charities, which will then forward them.