Aberlour Options Adventures
A story by Aberlour Child Care Trust
Aberlour Options Adventures provided residential and day adventures to young people who have learning disabilities and severe and complex needs.
The service give parents/carers respite and the opportunity to relax or spend quality time with siblings.
What Aberlour Options Adventures did
Since October 2017 there have been 3 residential adventures and 3 day adventures. Residential Adventures have taken place as follows, 2 night residential was held in October 2017 where a group of boys visited Glasgow. A 2 night residential was held in December 2017 where a group of young people visited Loch Insh near Aviemore, then a 2 night residential was held in January 2018 to Bonaly Outdoor Centre, Edinburgh.
Day adventures have also taken place as follows, in October 2017 a Visit to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho where the young people participated in climbing and abseiling activities before going for a sail on the Seagull Trust Canal Boat for the afternoon activity. November 2017 a visit to Festival Theatre, Edinburgh to watch Slava’s Snow Show, this was an interactive show which allowed all the children the opportunity to participate. December 2017 a visit to the Seagull Trust Barge at Ratho for a sail on the canal and a visit from Santa.
The young people who participated in the day and residential adventures have a wide range of disabilities and needs and were identified to allow them to experience the activities most suited to them. Carers used their time to relax and spend quality time with their families and friends. The adventures service has now built a small team of people who are willing to come along and work on the different adventures.
During residential stays a number of different activities were planned these included, archery, den building, walking with a reindeer herd, kayaking, going to a football match and going to a pantomime. On day adventures the young people have participated in a climbing wall; abseiling; Slava’s Snow Show; ail on a canal boat to meet Santa.
What Aberlour Child Care Trust has learned
Through delivering Aberlour Adventures a larger number of young people whose families need support have been able to come along and enjoy some time meeting other young people and participating in activities they would not have had the opportunity to do without this service. We are planning to expand the service and develop a partnership with all Aberlour and Social Work Services throughout Scotland and have already developed new links with services in Dundee and Invergordon.
Planning and budgeting are an important part of this service and developing links with outdoor centres and activity providers will allow more opportunities to use a wider range of services at reasonable costs and expand the adventures service. At present there are residential adventures planned to 5 other outdoor centres throughout Scotland and the North of England.
Parents/carers will have more time to spend with their families and friends, parents/carers will be able to describe the benefits of routine short breaks. Parents will be more confident to replicate activities undertaken during adventure trips.
Since October 2017 there have been 3 x 2 night residential adventures and 3 x 1 day adventures. This has allowed parents/carers the opportunity to relax and spend time with other members of their families and friends. Some parents are now contacting the Adventures service enquiring as to what is being planned for the future. A parental/carers questionnaire has still to be devised but it is hoped that this will be ready very soon. Parents/carers do comment on the Aberlour Adventures Facebook page. The children and young people are always given the opportunity to make comment at the end of the adventure when an evaluation takes place, this is done through verbal comments; using I-pads or pictures.
A young person with anxiety issues was invited to come along on one of the Adventures. He finds it difficult to be apart from his parents even for overnight stays in the usual respite facilities so the prospect of a different type of overnight stay was a huge undertaking for him. He talked all the way from his home to the bus telling his Mum he wasn’t going on the adventure and to take him back home. Mum continued with the journey and once at the bus he apprehensively went on board with the other service users who were also going on the adventure. He took his phone as security to be able to contact his parents whenever he wanted. Once the journey had begun staff noticed he did relax a little, although asking lots of questions about where he was going and when he would be back home. On arrival at the location he appeared settled and happy and started to help with his unpacking, after this, phoning his parents to say he was going to stay. During the adventure he ate well, slept well and participated in all the planned activities. He also enjoyed meeting young people from other Aberlour services and interacted well with them during the adventure. On returning home he walked into the house and said to Mum “That was just awesome”. Mum commented on Facebook “Thank you for a wonderful time in Aviemore for H, I’ve never seen him cope so well with a trip away”.As a result of participating in this adventure this young person is now booked to come on another adventure in the next few weeks, which proves the positive impact not only on him but on his family.
Parents able to describe what they did during their break and the benefits this had to their continuing caring role, family and peer relationships, etc. Parents able to express their confidence in Options Adventures (to provide a safe, stimulating and rewarding experience for their child)
Forward planning of the Adventures service will allow staff to devise a timetable that would suit the needs of parents/carers needs in a more positive way eg. parents/carers are more able to plan their time in advance when the young person is on an adventure, this will in turn be of benefit to the parents. The comments on the Adventures Facebook page are evidence of the parents/carers confidence in the service along with parents/carers contacting the service looking for more adventures for their children/young people. As mentioned previously a parental questionnaire has still to be devised. We are currently working on expanding the adventures service to allow more young people the option to participate, this will be done through networking with Social Work and other services throughout Scotland.
One of the recent day adventures had an earlier start than usual due to the distance from the activities. On collecting one of the young people who was coming along her parents told me that due to the early start they were able to travel to their planned outing and spend more time with friends. This was much appreciated by the parents who had over 10 hours to themselves that day. Dad commented on the Facebook page “Fab, M had a great time and she slept until 9.00am”. These parents have asked if their daughter can come along on more adventures both day and residential which will have a more positive impact on their time with family and friends.
Adventure based breaks will be delivered across Scotland from a variety of specialist and mainstream settings, there will be an increase in the type/theme of adventure breaks we provide. Each trip will be staffed, risk assessed and resourced specific to the needs of the group.
Aberlour Adventures has delivered both residential and short breaks across several areas of Scotland with activities arranged to suit the needs of the children/young people who are participating. At the present time we are looking at activities in all areas of Scotland and the North of England to allow inclusion for all young people in mainstream activities, eg. we recently visited a Country Park where several young people who require wheelchairs were able to go kayaking alongside others who are mobile and we are looking to develop this type of inclusion in the future.
Recently a group of young people with a wide range of disabilities visited Edinburgh Zoo for the Wild about Scotland Day. Some of the young people were in wheelchairs, some have little or no communication whilst others are mobile and can communicate well. By taking this group to Edinburgh Zoo for this organised day it allowed them to interact and participate in activities with other young people who have no disabilities or needs, therefore this was an inclusive event for all who attended.