Saturday Club Activities Kielder Activity Break
A story by Charlie House
We provided an Activity Short Break for families and employed an Activities Coordinator to organise the Monthly Saturday Club and support our families during the short break.
What Saturday Club Activities Kielder Activity Break did
For the Activity Short Break we booked 9 chalets for a two week stay at The Calvert Trust in Kielder Forest Park Northumberland. Our families experienced a short break in an accessible environment. The two weeks in the October school holidays was split into 3 blocks of 5 nights, 5 nights and 4 nights stays enabling up to 27 families to attend the break over the 2 week period.
Families that attended were referred by the local Special Needs Schools and from health professionals, as well as families already being known to the charity. We also advertised the Activity Short Break on our social media platforms. During the break families were able to experience zip-wiring, climbing wall, canoeing, sailing, king swing, hydrotherapy pool, sensory room and many other activities, all of which were accessible. In addition to the activities, families were able to socialise with others in a similar situation in the evenings, make new friends and share their experiences.
A part-time Activities Coordinator was employed and started in post in June 2016. The Activities Coordinator took over the organisation and planning of the Monthly Saturday Club activities from a volunteer. She researched new activities and venues, booked the events and was the contact person at the events. Saturday Club sessions included trampolining and sensory play session at Aberdeen Sports Village, Bowling at Garioch Indoor Bowling Centre, Ice Skating at the Linx Ice Arena, Christmas Party at hoodless Playbarn and a Sensory Theatre session at ACT Aberdeen. The Saturday Club events are for the whole family to enjoy.
"The opportunity for us to experience activities as a family, not having to leave our daughter out. This trip has allowed us to see our daughter experience activities which she has not been able to take part in before, making fantastic memories forever."
"Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together as a family and enable our special needs child to fulfil his potential and join in activities we thought would otherwise not be possible."
"Trips like this where a disabled child can take part in so many activities, which would have previously seemed impossible, gives you the confidence to believe that with the right support, guidance and information - this small restricted world we are a part of can be so much bigger and the future brighter."
"It has given us more confidence to try new things and allowed other siblings to see that anything can be possible."
"We have loved it. Has at times even been emotional seeing our son get to experience such fun and get involved with activities we'd never have imagined having access to. Seeing him so relaxed and happy has been a wonderful tonic for us all."
"Being able to do things, all of us as one family is such a huge benefit to us. To create lasting memories and being able to break down the barriers of a 'disabled family"
"For a short time the pressure of everyday life was taken away. We don't want to leave!"
"It gave us more confidence to go out and try more activities, we felt weren't possible. The trip is a very much needed time away that allows us to spend quality time as a family doing activities that are impossible to do at home. Lots of happy memories made."
A and her family live in a remote area of Northern Scotland where there isn’t a lot of support available for her specific needs. However, there are a few general support groups in the area, but they unfortunately tend to do very little for the child and her family as the groups tend to focus on what individuals with disabilities can’t do, rather than what they can do. Due to this, together with the lack of accessible activities in the surrounding area, the family has been restricted in what they can do in their everyday life.
A and her family were one out of the 22 families that attended the Charlie House Kielder Activity Short Break in October 2016. Upon arrival, the family didn’t know any of the others attending the short break, but thanks to the regular evening meetups in the bar and lounge area A, her mum and dad quickly made new friends with the other Charlie House families. A’s mum said: “I loved the opportunity of meeting up with other parents/carers/children at the end of the day. No one bothered about our daughter’s singing – it was fab!”
In addition to making new friends, A and her parents also got to forget about the problems of everyday life for a little while by taking part in family activities that they previously never would have thought were possible. A’s mum said: “This trip has allowed us to see our daughter experience activities which she has not been able to take part in before, making fantastic memories forever. “That’s what we’ve enjoyed the most with this trip, the opportunity for us all to experience activities as a family, not having to leave our daughter out.
“The activities were 10/10 due to the great attitude of the instructors, their knowledge and total commitment to ensuring they got the correct harnesses/etc. right for our child was second to none. “We cannot thank Charlie House enough for allowing us to join in this trip. It has been such a positive experience for our daughter and us as parents. Thank you.”
The Charlie House Kielder Activity Short Break is a holiday for the entire family. Everything from the activities to the self-catered chalets is organised with the disabled individual in mind. However, Charlie House would like to claim that the holiday is just as important for the able bodied siblings, as it is for the disabled child. By attending the Kielder Activity Short Break, a family will have quality time to spend time together as a family something that isn’t always possible back home. One parent that attended the short break in 2016 said: “This holiday break has enabled our family to enjoy quality time together.”
A lot of other families agree. One parent added: ”Yes, because regular holidays are often stressful and it’s difficult to keep everyone happy. “Because of this, we often have to go away without at least one family member to make things easier.”
Another parent said: “The best thing with Kielder is that we’re able to do all activities together as a family and that it allows us to do things that we could never normally attempt. “The entire family has been looking forward to this trip from the moment we were allocated a slot and we’re so extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend Kielder.
“It’s truly an amazing place and it’s great for the entire family to be able to meet old friends as well as making new ones.”
The family went to Kielder thinking that the two parents would have to spend their days apart, doing separate things with either their disabled daughter or their able-bodied sons. Prior to the trip, the family had seen a list of available activities, but nothing seemed to be suitable for their daughter.
K said: “As we were looking at activities like kayaking, zip wire and climbing, we asked the staff what our daughter could do and received the simplest of replies that she could do whatever she likes.
“That’s when we knew that a new exciting, and at times scary, world of opportunities had opened up to us.” The Kielder Activity Break has been wonderful days of adventure, challenges and achieving what K’s family thought would be unachievable, not only for their little girl, but also for them as a family.
The unique and truly amazing thing with the Charlie House Kielder Activity Breaks is that they allow families to do things that’s not always possible at home. During these breaks, parents get to spend time together with the entire family, meet wonderful like-minded families, as well as getting to see their disabled child reach for the stars.
K said: “During our Kielder Activity Break the entire family have been able to go climbing, kayaking, zip wiring, sailing, king swinging, done archery and orienteering - the list goes on. "For us this is the true meaning of an all-inclusive holiday, in the most beautiful surroundings, with wonderful people.”
Another family adds: “It’s fantastic to be able to do things as one family – it’s such a huge benefit to us. “We’ve been able to create lasting memories and break down the barriers of a 'disabled family'”.
“Trips like these where a disabled child can take part in so many activities which previously seemed impossible, gives you the confidence to believe that with the right support, guidance and information - this small restricted world of can be so much bigger and the future brighter.”
What Charlie House has learnedThe fund has enabled us to part fund the Activity Short Break, this break will continue and be fully funded by the charity from 2017. The support from Shared Care Scotland has enabled us to try out a new project and to gradually build sustainability over a number of years.
One of the biggest challenges for the Saturday Club is finding suitable accessible venues and activities for the families to do. The number of changing places in the city is exceptionally low with only new build centres being able to offer these facilities. Unfortunately, this limits the activities that the children can partake in.
Another challenge was hiring specialist equipment for families to have a short break. In 2015, we were able to hire shower trolleys for our most disabled children (a significant number of our children fall into this category) who are unable to sit in shower chairs. However, in 2016 this became impossible as we were unable to hire shower trolleys from anywhere in the UK.
Local schools in Aberdeen and a transport company helped us out by loaning the equipment and transporting it for us - without this assistance half the families would have been unable to attend the Activity Short Break. It is disappointing that centres for disabled clients do not have the full range of equipment necessary to facilitate the most in need.