Fun and outdoor challenges for special young people

A bursary sponsorship provided annually by Andover lift company Stannah to Icknield School in Andover has provided two days of fun and outdoor challenges at Avon Tyrrell in the New Forest. The 65-acre site provides the perfect spot for UKYouth to provide educational challenges that help all young people reach their potential.

Icknield School is a co-educational school for children with severe learning difficulties aged 3 – 19 years. The school provide a bungalow in the community for the further education of the oldest pupils aged from 16 – 19 years and it is this group of youngsters who benefit from the bursary.

These special young people all have considerable challenges in life but together with their excellent teachers and support staff they really enjoy the activities provided by UKYouth at Avon Tyrrell.

The first day of challenges took place in the woodland area and slowly encouraged the youngsters to leave the security of ‘two feet on the ground’ by taking small steps to climbing. With the aid of ropes and pulleys (and a lot of quiet persuasion and encouragement from their peers and teachers) most of the group achieved beyond everyone’s expectations.

It really was a joy to see how much a small physical barrier crossed meant to each individual and the support they all showed to each other, cheering each youngster on and clapping their triumphs.

A day out in unfamiliar surroundings for twelve nervous individuals ended with climbing up trees, swinging on ropes and laughing with the sheer joy of renewed confidence.

The pictures tell a story of a series of fantastic confidence-boosting milestones. Some were very small steps but all were significant for each young person. A competitive edge developed, but not with each other. Some of the young people, reluctant in their first attempts, challenged themselves to go several times going a little higher each time.

The return visit for a second session saw the group take to the lake in especially linked canoes and boats for absolute safety. Again leaving dry land is unnerving but soon there were giggles all round.

Archery was their final activity which is challenging for everyone. The concentration and stillness required was difficult to achieve but again ‘having a go’ was reward enough for everyone.

Icknield School in Andover is for children and young people aged 3 -19 with severe learning difficulties. Icknield provides a happy, safe and exciting learning environment for children at the school and from the wider environment. In this vibrant, friendly school, all the staff and governors work together to provide the best possible learning opportunities for the pupils.

Joan Hofland-Gibbs, leader of FE at Icknield comments:

“We enjoyed two fabulous days out at Avon Tyrrell and the team returned exhausted but happy and proud of all we achieved. These adventures are so valuable for our young people and really do represent a change in confidence for some. We all extend a big thank you to Stannah for the opportunity, appreciated by us all.”

Pupils behaviour is outstanding. The school provides a harmonious learning environment where pupils help and support each other” OFSTED 2012

Avon Tyrrell is one of a network of activity centres run by the national charity UKYouth. ‘Positive About Youth’ is the organisation’s strapline and they most certainly are! Their focus is on developing and promoting ‘non-formal’ learning opportunities for all. Through local youth groups and regional associations they reach 750,000 young people each year.

Stannah have supported Icknield School over a long association of many years and are pleased to provide this bursary for the special young people at Icknield.

acoleman 09-07-2013