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Emotional support for
Children & Adolescents through Gaming and Game Design

online 121 mentorship and guidance for children suffering with anxiety, stress and social issues; through positivity, learning new skills and play.

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BAFTA Mentor of the Year finalist 2021

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MindJam

MindJam offers emotional support and guidance for children and adolescents through gaming and game design.

It is important to recognise and understand that many children have additional emotional needs that are not always met by traditional means. At a young age, these needs can sometimes feel overwhelming and often isolating.

At MindJam, our aim is to support children who suffer anxiety, stress, social issues and other emotional needs. We are experienced in working with children with ASD, ADHD, Trauma, PDA and children who have been adopted.

 

MindJam uses gaming, coding and game creation, digital music and digital art, as a platform to develop positive play, problem solving and social and technical skill development, through friendly, positive and low-demand sessions. These activities are great for relieving stress and anxiety and have been shown to greatly benefit mental health and cognitive development.

 

In private and online one-to-one sessions, we provide a safe environment in which children are encouraged to express themselves, to talk about anything that interests them, their loves and fears, worries, problems and goals.

 

Through positive, non-judgemental social interaction, tuition and play, we aim to provide the right support for their individual needs, whilst also providing an educational benefit through furthering skills in gaming, game design and coding. 

 

The sessions can range from playing together in Minecraft, Fortnite, Roblox and other games, to learning Java, hosting a server, modding, creating games in Roblox Studio and Dreams, coding games in Python and Lua, using Scratch, modelling in Blender, becoming trained and certified as a junior programmer in Unity and helping aim towards further education and employment.

 

The future is becoming increasingly digital and it is a world in which children increasingly feel at home. By harnessing the benefits of digital entertainment/creative platforms, we want to support children with aspects of life they find difficult, in an environment they feel comfortable


We're proud to work with:
Autism Champions - https://www.autismchampions.co.uk/              Asend - https://asend.co.uk/
Essex County Council - local offer       Notts County Council       Vale Of Glamorgan County Council
Hertfordshire County Council       Oxfordshire County Council

plus many schools around the country

We work together with families, support networks, schools, councils and mental health professionals to provide the right support to each individual child.

Please get in touch at mindjamdan@gmail.com if you'd like to discuss MindJam sessions for your child or student.

 
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About Us

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My years of experience in teaching, music, computers, working with children, coding, graphic design, and also being a parent of two autistic children, have led me to founding MindJam. There are so many amazingly talented children who are lost, struggling and feel they don’t fit in. My goal is to build their self esteem, confidence, and ease their anxieties all whilst honing their skills and abilities to help them reach their incredible potential.

I've been a teacher for over 20 years, I've helped thousands of children to play instruments, game design and code. In these sessions I have gained great experience in being a good listener and mentor to these children and have often helped children gain confidence and overcome obstacles.

I've recorded and released albums and singles, been featured on BBC and Channel 4, played at the London 2012 Olympics, taught the youngest grade 8 rock guitarist in the UK and won awards for songwriting and web design.

I am fully DBS checked, have full safeguarding training and have completed an accredited Counselling Children and Adolescents course. I am also very experienced in working with and helping children with ASD, ADHD, PDA, Anxiety, Trauma and other mental health issues.

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Dan Clark
MindJam Founder/Owner

 

Leo Worsdale
Lead Mentor & Mentor Support

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I am a former teacher, with 5 years of teaching experience in a primary school in the Lincoln area. Although predominately a mainstream setting, the school catered for children with Special Educational Needs and I have worked closely with many children with varying needs, including ASD, ADHD, PDA, Anxiety, Trauma and other mental health issues. In my time in education, I have worked with many different children, adapting to their varying needs and ensuring they are happy within a safe learning environment.

I believe the voice of the child is incredibly important. In my teacher career, I have met many children whose additional needs are not being fully met by their educational establishment, which in turn can have a detrimental affect on their mental health and wellbeing. As a long timer gamer myself, I am a strong advocate of the benefits of video games and that they can be important tool in helping children feel comfortable in expressing themselves. I’m immensely proud to be part of MindJam, who provide an outlet for those children, and connect with them in way that no other service can.

I am fully DBS checked, have full up-to date safeguarding training and have also received training on the Autistic Spectrum, ADHD, Demand avoidance and Global Learning Difficulties, trauma and mental health in children.

Sam Hollandt
Mentor

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I have a vast background in psychology, including a MSc in Mental Health Studies. Additionally, I have worked across three schools in the UK that support children with Special Educational Needs, physical disabilities, and/or mental illness. Both of those, experiences and knowledge are key to inform my decisions, understanding that every child is different and requires unique support.
I am incredibly passionate about gaming. It creates a safe environment, allowing people of any age to use their creativity, explore their imagination, and it offers an interactive platform to promote social interaction. However, game/photo or video design are equally fantastic outlets for young people, as again they allow for individuals to create, learn, and evolve. Being a part of MindJam, I am excited that I have found the perfect opportunity to combine my two biggest passions and support the children’s personal needs in a way they feel most comfortable and understood.
I am fully DBS checked and have an extensive background in safeguarding and relevant training including Prevent, Psychological First Aid and Safeguarding Online.

Chris Young
Mentor

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I formerly worked in a residential care home for young people aged 8-18 with a range of Special Education Needs including Autism, ADHD, social anxieties and challenging behaviours along with associated difficulties that come along with these needs. No matter the child I am working with, I will always strive to ensure everything we do is child centered and, where possible, child led as from my years of experience this has always gained the best results, especially for children with demand avoidance.

By using video games as a medium we are able to help the child feel comfortable and happy in an environment that is safe and familiar to them, and Mind Jam allows for this level of child led interaction, which I have seen similarly in my work in a residential care home, do wonders to allow children of all ability levels show skill, achievement and progress. It is this sense of self-worth and independence that I hope to bring to more children to help them to be able to discuss and share any difficulties or issues they may be having in a way they feel happy and comfortable so we can work together to help them achieve the best they possibly can.

I have been gaming since I was a little kid myself and it is something that has stuck with me as it gives an opportunity no other medium has for adventure and achievement. I started to teach myself to code when I was around 20 years old. I have always been interested in how software and games were made, and I  was drawn to the logical coding aspect of it. I have learnt (to varying degrees) Python, C++, C# and Java and would love to share what I know with children eager to learn themselves. I have been fully DBS checked, and have training in all sorts of aspects including safeguarding and online safety.

Adam Rowe
Mentor

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I have worked in Education, and specifically SEND for the last 10 years in a variety of supporting and teaching roles. Starting in Australia as a community support officer, I have spent a lot of time working primarily on a one to one basis with young people, helping them to engage and interact in all aspects of societal and educational life. I love empowering young people to use their voice, and believe that through the arts, as well as design and media, there is an amazing opportunity for young people to develop their life and social skills, and find a direction that allows them to be free and creative.

I worked for 4 years as a music workshop facilitator, working with young people in SEND settings, and with those at risk of offending, mainly in music production, to offer an outlet or an alternative way to deal with issues they may be facing personally or in the environment they found themselves in. This led to my Music Research MA, where I focused on youth culture in inner city environments. I believe strongly in meeting young people on their terms, and in listening first and then responding. In giving young people the time and respect to communicate comfortably and naturally, we can form stronger more supporting relationships.

I have a degree in Interactive Design, and have worked as a freelance designer for many years, and love all the amazing elements of media that go into game creation and the games industry as a whole. I believe that games are great places to interact with people on a non intrusive level, and the act of gaming can allow users time to decompress and process events at a speed that is manageable for them. I'm incredibly honoured to be able to use my knowledge of gaming to connect with young people to provide support, and my knowledge in media and design to help them discover new avenues and skills that they may never have considered before.

I am experienced in supporting young people with asd, adhd, pda, anxiety and stress issues.

I am fully DBS checked, and have several qualifications in safeguarding, and data protection and safeguarding for online education.

Perri Slyfield
Mentor

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I have had many roles in education throughout my career, as a Primary School Teacher, a SENDCo and Deputy Manager at a Pre-School, as well as working 1:1 with children and 

young people with additional needs. I have worked with children and young people of all ages, supporting varying needs from ASD, PDA, ADHD, GDD, Visual and Hearing Impairments, to  Mental Health issues, Behavioural Difficulties and Trauma.

My warm and bubbly personality has helped many children and young people open up about their lives, and as a child at heart, I try my hardest to understand their viewpoints and am always ready to research and learn about their specific interests to help them feel cared for and understood. 

I have completed research studies on the importance of using ICT and Computing for the inclusion of those with SEN, and found every time that using a medium which the children felt most comfortable with allowed them to achieve their best - whilst also getting the most enjoyment out of it. 

I love getting to play numerous different games and trying out new genres, having found games to be a soothing comfort throughout hard times and day to day life. I truly believe my interest in computer games helped me develop many skills that I use every day throughout my personal life and career, helping me cope with the hectic world of being an adult! 

I have a full DBS check, up to date safeguarding training and additional training including Autism Awareness, Pathological Demand Avoidance Training and SENCo Pathway.

 

Favourite Games: Stardew Valley, Terraria, RimWorld, Civilisation, Team Fight Tactics, Animal Crossing, Hearthstone, Black and White, Dead or Alive. 

 

Other Interests: Arts & Crafts, Musicals, Plants, Animals, K-Pop, Fashion, Sci-Fi (books, TV and film). 

 

Pets: 1 Dog, Bridget Bones-  The 11 year old rescue pup.

Adam Hillman
Mentor

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I worked within the gaming industry for 6 years for a AAA company on BAFTA award-winning games. Previous to this I acquired a BSC in Early Childhood Studies at university, during which time I was fortunate to focus my studies towards provision for children with any level of ability. I have seen firsthand the benefits that gaming can provide not only emotionally and socially as a means for communication and meeting with friends, but also as a very achievable career path, one that will only grow with importance with the ever-increasing digital world.  

I believe education to be extremely important but also believe that accessibility to it should be taken equally seriously. In the areas where some establishments may find it difficult to engage or provide adequately, activity within a digital setting can easily bridge these gaps, provide a safe, nurturing and fun environment in which to learn and simultaneously enjoy the process of doing so. Gaming and digital media in its many forms is a powerful tool, making it accessible and combining it with education provides us all with a truly mind blowing range of opportunities. The limitless creative possibilities mean there is truly something for everyone regardless of age, ability or understanding. 

 

It is a pleasure to work with MindJam in this unique opportunity to align both my passion for gaming and education, providing a much-needed service that can truly enhance the learning experience.

 

Favourite Games: Guild Wars 2, Valheim, Dark Souls, Minecraft, Command and Conquer, Metal Gear Solid, Skyrim. 

 

Other Interests: Nature, Space, Camping and Bushcraft, Wood carving, Model painting, Music (Acoustic,Folk,Rock) 

 

Pets; one cat Haru 

Jess Wilson
Mentor

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I have a Master’s degree in Education with a focus on Special Educational Needs and Disability. After graduating with distinction, I have now begun my PhD in Education, again focused on SEND. I have two papers and my dissertation in editing to be published, including a piece on SEND and social justice, and a piece on ADHD. I have an in-depth knowledge of both past and current educational practice and policy, such as EHCPs and off-rolling, and the impact on both parents/guardians and children. 

Prior to my studies I worked at Rockstar Lincoln as a member of the QA team and my claim to fame will always be having my name in the credits of one of the bestselling games of all time, GTA V. Gaming has forever been a passion of mine, from many, many hours on the likes of Fable and Skyrim, to working in gaming Journalism, my time at Rockstar Lincoln, and now here at MindJam. 

As a mother to 2 young children, I am used to interacting with children and young people, and as gaming is a massive part of my family’s life too, I am up to date with all the big gaming YouTubers, games, and potential interests to connect with children and young people about. I can also empathise with parents and guardians as a parent myself. 

As someone who struggled in the education system I can empathise with children and young people who feel lost in or left out of mainstream schooling and have a unique insight into the struggles they face. 

I believe that the current education system doesn’t place enough value on children and young people as individuals, and as such many, wonderful, unique, talented individuals are left out. However, my passion for education lies in making sure all children are seen, heard, and valued. All children and young people deserve a safe space they can feel comfortable and able to be themselves. I believe this is built by allowing children and young people the space and time to do things at their own pace, in the way they feel happiest and most at ease. I am proud to be able to offer that safe space here at MindJam, to support and connect with its users and their parents and guardians to build confidence, skills, and help to overcome obstacles.  

I am fully DBS checked, have safeguarding training and experience putting it into practice, and knowledge and experience of ADHD, PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, trauma, and mental health. 

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Testimonials

“We are so grateful that MindJam Dan came into our lives. My son has had an extremely difficult few years, Dan has brought fun and laughter back into my son's life on a regular basis. This is no mean feat, particularly after the added stress of lockdown.

My son is 11, has been having a weekly session with Dan since January 2021. My son is autistic, demand avoidant, and highly anxious. He’s had dreadful experiences in education. Dan is enthusiastic, happy, accommodating of my son's needs, understands his needs better than most people.

Dan uses his understanding of autism and wellbeing, and his shared passion for gaming to connect and build trust with my son. Dan has had the most success with my son of all the professionals that have worked with him since he became too anxious for school.

My son looks forward to his sessions and wishes he could have more than 1 a week. He frequently asks me when he will be seeing Dan. He creates things in Minecraft in his spare time to share with Dan. My son has built the level of trust in 5 months of weekly sessions, that he can talk to Dan when something is concerning him, which is monumental. After a session with Dan my son’s mood is always lifted. Dan's sessions provide fun, support with wellbeing and also technical knowledge of which I am lacking!

Thank you Dan you are the highlight of my son’s week.” - Jess

"My son has been having sessions with Dan for a couple of months now. He looks forward to the sessions with excitement and engages animatedly throughout. Dan has a responsive, compassionate, fun style that works well for E, who struggles with anxiety in particular around demands.

This style of engagement is perfect for enhancing confidence and because the sessions are collaborative my son can take a lead and feel more in control, allowing a strong relationship to form.

Dan is clearly a lovely person who gets and responds to the individual needs of the children he works with. What a fabulous idea to connect with and help children in a way in which they feel passionate!"  Anne

"I wholeheartedly recommend MindJam and Dan and can't rate the service highly enough! My son is an anxious worrier and very reluctant scholar. His meetings with Dan are a high point of the week. He loves chatting and gaming with Dan, which puts him at ease enough to be able to open up and talk about his worries. A much needed, five star service!"

Our 12YO son is ASD/ADHD and has been out of full-time school for two years after a really difficult start to year 6.

A’s deep love for gaming and the many hours I spend as a parent on ASD/ADHD parenting groups on Facebook led me to read about MindJam. I became convinced that this could be just the thing that A needed. We even managed to get it funded by the LA as part of A’s EHCP.

From the minute A started talking to Dan in their first session, there was an instant connection. They started gaming together like old friends and it’s very clear that Dan knows exactly how to talk to young people. A’s demeanour after a session is striking. He’s bouncy, happy and full of energy. Not something we see much of at all usually.

The initial weekly sessions were 30 minutes long, but A was getting so much out of working with Dan that we doubled them to one hour.

Dan manages to chat to A about really difficult topics like how he feels about school in such an effortless manner. We communicate with Dan separately to give him context around what’s going on at home so he gets an insight into both perspectives. A is now learning how to code with Dan which he is enjoying immensely.

What’s MindJam given us? Hope for the future. Hope that A’s skills and passion for computer gaming can be harnessed and developed. Relief that there’s someone out there he can talk to and who understands him. If A had a choice, Dan would be his teacher five days a week!

"My 10 year old son has a very complex profile of autism including extreme PDA and school trauma and he has been having sessions with Dan for 4 months. My son takes a very long time to engage with others (if at all) due to negative experiences in education but he engaged with Dan instantly. I believe this is due to Dan’s approach which is low demand, friendly and responsive, with a manner which exudes unconditional positive regard. Dan always treats him as an equal which is so vital for successful engagement with the PDA profile . He always brings positivity to the sessions without fail.

I have been looking for someone like Dan for my son for a number of years and what I have found is that it’s quite rare to find a good fit for an extreme PDA profile with extremely high anxiety. When you do find it, it’s like striking gold!

In my experience there are a few key attributes to look for when sourcing a tutor/mentor for a complex profile like my son and they are the right personality, skill, intelligence and shared interests. Mindjam Dan has all of these and more. If Dan doesn’t know something that my son has requested (which isn’t very often) then he will go away and research it meticulously and return with the correct knowledge to inform the session.

In the 4 months my son has been working with Dan through the lockdown, he has made excellent progress in that he is now managing the transitions with ease, has been able to compromise in situations and is learning reading, spelling and technical skills all through gaming. My son looks forward to the sessions and through Dan’s patience and understanding when my son’s anxiety has been high, my son is easily able to re-engage with the peace of mind that Dan is someone that he can trust.

As a result of the safe and happy space that Dan creates, my son is supported well and as a result this has improved his self esteem and maintained positive mental health during the lockdown.

I would highly recommend Dan and I just wish there were more tutors/mentors out there with his profile and skill set. I feel very fortunate that he has come into my son’s life."

Joanne Lee

"Our son is 12 and has been out of education for 27 months. He is Autistic, chronic anxitey, school trauma and demand avoidant.

Thank you Dan for setting up this great service that benefits so many children. Also, thank you for allocating our son with mentor Leo.

Prior to sessions starting we had a zoom session with Leo, our son was unable to participate at first, but with a low arousal, no pressure approach he was able to wave, see Leo's face and hear his voice in preperation for his sessions. This no pressure approach was wonderful meeting his needs and reducing anxiety.

He looks forward to every session and comes off each one beaming. Leo is very approachable, he listens to our sons needs, wishes, works alongside him and us his parenrs. Leo validates his worries or concerns. Our son has come on so much within such a short space of time. From their first session he said he felt relaxed and able to talk to Leo.

We are very grateful to Dan, Leo and team for providing such a fabulous service for our children. Thank you for making such a difference in our child's life."

‘I'm sure other people tell you but you've saved us.

You saved my boy.

He smiles again, he talks to us.

And I don't feel like I want to break into a million pieces all the time.

So thank you.’

"We started working with Dan Clark at MindJam about six months ago. My young teen was completely unable to connect with anyone or anything. Many sessions ended early or abruptly as my child was unable to regulate or communicate. Dan Clark ALWAYS remained calm, relaxed, friendly and open. His kindness and understanding were (and still are) invaluable. Today we had a session where my young teen was able to quietly converse for perhaps 1/3 of the session without any support from me. Dan Clark continues in the same calm, friendly and gently encouraging way to be a sounding board, a colleague, a partner in crime, a fun friend to play with, a guardian of our sanity. I cannot find the words of gratitude to adequately share how far we have come with the support of Dan Clark at MindJam. Dan, you unlocked the door of my child’s prison. Thank you. " Helen

"My son aged 9 has been having sessions with Dan for a few months now. He’s diagnosed autistic with sensory issues and anxiety and avoids any demands. He absolutely loves his one to one sessions, they really bring his personality out and improve his confidence and self worth. He’s had issues at school so now is being hone educated and much more settled happy and engaging alongside his sessions with Dan. What I’ve seen is they are helping him with his vital sense of self identity and the information Dan gives to parents on the benefits of gaming for children who are neurodiverse or sensitive or who have anxiety is very factual and reduces parental anxiety over children gaming. My son is so much more confident in himself especially after having had some challenging experiences

Thank you Dan" - Louise

"I 'found' Dan just over a month ago. His unique offering of emotional support and nurturing alongside gaming seemed the most perfect combination for my anxious and withdrawn teenage son. I spoke to Dan on the telephone before deciding to ask him to work with my son. Within a few minutes I knew that he was perfect! Dan 'gets' anxiety and teenagers. He understood what I was saying without me having to explain how anxiety was affecting my son.

Dan patiently listened to me and asked relevant questions which clearly demonstrated his awareness of my son's needs. He was empathetic, compassionate and positive. His approach was to build a relationship with my son via gaming. There was no pressure placed upon my son and their relationship has quickly become very positive. After a 30 minute session with Dan my son is more communicative with me and it is a time when I can encourage him to leave the house/go for a walk. This is a huge step for a child who has mainly been inside the house for the last two years!

My son quickly asked if he could have a second session each week (well actually he asked for 7 sessions!).

Dan is very communicative with me as a parent and asks if there are any areas I would like him to focus on. Currently Dan is supporting my son by talking to him about starting a new school in September (having not been in school for 2 years).

I recommend Dan highly and feel very fortunate that he is in my son's life. Thanks Dan!"

"I wanted to let you know that O is going into school most days, he chats with friends from school online at weekends and after school and leaves the house almost every day to go for a walk. I really do believe that speaking with you weekly built his confidence and has helped him to live his life. Thank you so much"

 

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