Cycling is an enjoyable and rewarding activity for people of all ages and abilities. It encourages you to spend more time outdoors, boosts mental and physical fitness and is loads of fun, to name just a few of the benefits!
Thanks to these benefits, cycling is a particularly good activity for people with disabilities. As the interest in inclusive cycling grows, so too does the availability of adaptive bikes and accessible cycling activities.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we offer a range of exciting adventure activities for people with disabilities, and cycling is among just one of the experiences our guests can get stuck into.
Find out everything you need to know about accessible bike riding.
What is Accessible Cycling?
This form of cycling allows people with a range of disabilities to experience the activity to the fullest extent and on their own terms.
Any kind of accessible activity is about ensuring everyone, no matter their ability or circumstance, feels comfortable and able to participate. This is often achieved with adaptive equipment like the adaptive bikes used for accessible cycling.
There are several kinds of adaptive bicycles that help cater to the needs of different individuals.
What Types of Accessible Bikes are Available?
The range of different adaptive bikes means that anyone can find something to fit their requirements.
Adaptive Low Step & Electric Bikes
These are standard pedal bikes with some modifications that help the user with pedalling or getting on and off the bike.
Low step bicycles have a low frame, which can be helpful for people who have limited movement and find it challenging to get their leg over a regular frame. This makes mounting and dismounting easier for anyone with reduced flexibility or mobility. Additional cranks and extensions can be added to accommodate different individuals.
Electric bikes have also grown in popularity in recent years. While we don’t currently have any in the fleet here at Calvert Exmoor, they can be used to help people who cannot comfortably do physical exercise for sustained periods, supporting them as they cycle further distances.
Accessible Trikes & Tricycles for People with Disabilities
Tricycles function like a standard bike but have three wheels rather than two for a heightened sense of stability.
This makes them especially useful for people who need more support when it comes to balance and coordination, as the third wheel reduces the chance of wobbling and falling over.
Regular pedal tricycles can also be adapted to become handcycles to suit the needs of each individual.
Handcycles for People with Disabilities
Accessible handcycle bikes are powered by pedals that are moved by the hands rather than the feet. These pedals power and steer the bike. You can find three or four-wheeled models to help with balance.
These kinds of accessible bicycles are popular choices for people with little to no lower body mobility and those that want to work on increasing upper body strength.
Handcycles are often recumbent bikes but are also available in a range of styles.
Recumbent Bikes for People with Disabilities
An accessible recumbent bike allows the user to recline slightly in the chair, sitting further back rather than leaning forward over the handles.
This offers further support to the back and puts less strain on the rider’s knees and hip joints, offering a more comfortable experience.
Some recumbent bikes are much like standard two-wheel bicycles, just with larger reclined seats and a higher pedal position setting them apart. However, you can also get accessible recumbent bikes that are closer to the ground, which allows for even greater accessibility and support with balance.
Tandem Bicycles & Side-By-Side Bikes for People with Disabilities
As the name suggests, bikes that have a larger frame and multiple seats allow two (or more) people to cycle together.
These bikes can be especially useful for people with visual impairments and sensory or emotional disabilities who may need support or guidance when it comes to steering or pedalling.
Side-by-side bikes are available with three and four wheels and allow users to ride alongside each other.
Wheelchair Accessible Bikes
Wheelchair users may feel that riding a bike is not possible for them, but this is just not the case with the help of wheelchair cycles.
These adaptive bikes have handles, saddles and pedals at the back, allowing one of two people to cycle and steer, while the front houses a seat for wheelchair users to sit in or a platform that their wheelchair can sit on.
Wheelchair bikes allow anyone with little or no mobility to experience the thrill of cycling, enjoying the ride with a friend or family member on the cycle behind them.
The Benefits of Accessible Cycling
Because of the perceived and real barriers in society, many people with disabilities may feel like they cannot go bike riding or may have limited opportunities to exercise, especially when doing adventure activities.
This lack of opportunities can lead to feelings of isolation and other issues with mental health as well as physical health.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’ve seen the advantages of accessible cycling first-hand and know what a positive impact it can have. Discover how cycling can be beneficial for children and adults with disabilities.
Focus & Repetition
For some, the process of simply getting on and off a bike may pose a challenge. Others may struggle to concentrate fully on the task of cycling.
Trying something new or challenging offers a fantastic opportunity to learn and develop. And if you don’t know how to ride a bike or are having to re-learn, there are some great skills you’ll pick up along the way, notably, determination.
Developing new skills can be incredibly rewarding and motivational. Once you’ve got to grips with your bike of choice, cycling can become a therapeutic and relaxing experience.
If you’re interested in building on your new outdoorsy skills, why not find out more about orienteering with a disability? It’s another activity that will encourage you to develop concentration and appreciation of the natural world.
Supporting Physical Health
As cycling encourages you to move and get energetic, there are a host of physical benefits to be enjoyed, including:
- Improving balance
- Providing gentle exercise without strain
- Supporting strength and overall fitness
- Helping regulate weight and stabilise blood sugar levels
- Building muscle and circulating the blood
- Helping people stay active for longer and delays the onset of various conditions
Supporting Mental Health and Well-Being
Along with the physical benefits, cycling can also offer a wealth of mental benefits, including:
- Providing feelings of empowerment
- Giving a sense of independence
- Boosting self-esteem and positive self-belief
- Reducing social isolation
- Provides an opportunity to spend time in nature
Providing Social Benefits
Joining a cycling club or going to an accessible activity centre can be a great way for people who typically feel isolated to meet new, like-minded people and broaden their social horizons.
Using tandem or wheelchair bikes offers a more social bike riding activity, allowing riders to work together and build a connection.
Cycling can be even more enjoyable when done with a family member, carer or friend – you’ll share the physical work while still encouraging social interactions, teamwork and trust.
Accessible Cycling at Calvert Exmoor
Cycling is an incredibly popular activity with our guests – and for good reason!
The cycling path around the picturesque Wistlandpound Reservoir can be challenging, but that makes it all the more rewarding. The hallmark Exmoor views offering tranquil water and woodland scenes certainly don’t hurt either.
Our range of bikes includes tricycles, handcycles, recumbent bikes, wheelchair bicycles and tandems to ensure that you can find the right equipment to suit your needs, no matter who you are or your ability.
An instructor will help everyone find a suitable bike before you’re free to whizz around the route or take things at a more leisurely pace.
The bike riding sessions tend to last between two and three hours, with plenty of opportunity for a break halfway through, ensuring everyone can get the most out of the activity without becoming worn out.
Don’t just take our word for it! Head over to our guest stories to find out what people liked most about the cycling activities and their time with us.
With access to different kinds of adaptive bikes, there are plenty of ways for anyone to get involved in accessible cycling at home. However, if you cannot get your hands on a suitable bike or want to try cycling alongside a plethora of other inclusive adventure activities, an accessible activity holiday might be for you!
Can’t wait to get in on the action? To find out more about booking a stay with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.
People with autism can find processing everyday sensory experiences difficult. These sensory differences may mean a person with autism navigates the world differently and might seek different experiences than a neurotypical person.
Sensory toys and experiences that increase or decrease stimulation help engage numerous senses or let someone focus on one sensation, functioning to support individuals to relax or concentrate. These kinds of aids can be helpful for both children and adults with autism who are hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to stimulants.
As an activity centre that offers autism-friendly holidays, we understand how important it is for people with autism to feel in control of their surroundings. Our accessible facilities include a sensory room that provides different sensory toys and a safe space to get away from overwhelming stimulants.
What are Sensory Toys?
Sensory and receptive toys are designed to help you fully engage with one or more senses in an enjoyable way. This includes stimulating:
- Bodily Awareness
They are especially useful for children with autism who are learning how to respond to different sensory experiences, supporting both physical and cognitive development. Toys or tools like this can also be helpful with adults with autism as they can provide something to focus on and control when the outside world seems overwhelming or chaotic.
A sensory projector can create displays of lights, colours, patterns and images, helping you create a safe, controlled space with ambient lighting.
Depending on an individual’s response to light, this could be relaxing or exciting. Light projectors or even more simple colour torches offer an immersive but calming experience, making them especially useful tools for sleep routines.
Bubble machines or regular bottles of bubbles make great multi-sensory toys that can pique the interest of people of all different ages.
Not only are bubbles intriguing to look at, with their sheen of colours and wobbling shapes, but having fun with bubbles also creates the opportunity to incorporate some games.
Games could include popping as many bubbles as possible in a given time, blowing the largest bubble or following the bubbles until they pop.
Sand & Slime
Things like sand and slime are great for those that are intrigued by different experiences with touch. Playing with new textures offers a varied sensory experience that individuals can explore at their own pace.
Playing with kinetic sand or slime can be both relaxing and offer an outlet for creativity. As many of these products are available in bright colours or with different themes, they can also appeal to visual senses.
Fidget Cubes & Spinners
Fidget toys come in many forms, whether it’s a puzzle cube, light-up fidget spinner or any other small hand-held toy that has moving parts or enticing textures.
A small fidget toy is ideal to occupy those that are prone to distraction or individuals who like to keep their hands moving.
Fidget toys can be useful for both children and adults as many find them relaxing and provide a distraction from overwhelming sensations.
Sensory rings work in a similar way, distracting individuals and occupying their hands when they want to channel energy into something kinetic. You’ll find various kinds of sensory rings, with discrete, wearable rings that offer interesting textures or larger rubber rings to play with.
Wearable rings will often have small moving parts that will easily keep anxious hands busy and calm those who enjoy repetitive patterns and movements.
Colourful & Interactive Books
Books with vibrant colours and dynamic pictures appeal to anyone who likes to be visually stimulated.
Some books will have different textures and other interactive elements to intrigue and delight the reader’s tactile senses.
Some authors have written books specifically aimed towards children and adults with autism, helping them make sense of their sensory differences or other experiences or presenting relatable accounts of everyday situations.
Rainmakers can offer visual and auditory stimulation. These fun toys are often colourful, with lots of vibrant beads inside that individuals can watch fall and dance as they make soothing rain sounds.
The consistent, white noise-like sound produced by rainmakers can offer a preferable audible experience for those that are too overwhelmed by loud or intricate music where lots of different sounds are present.
Musical instruments are incredibly varied, so they will offer countless auditory experiences with the opportunity to explore different sensations. Research has indicated that music stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, making it a useful therapy tool for people with autism.
As music doesn’t necessarily require the use of spoken language, engaging with different instruments can encourage those who struggle with verbal communication to find new ways to express themselves.
Those that take comfort in noticing patterns may also enjoy the inherent rhythm and counting in music.
Swings & Climbing Apparatus
For some, the act of moving their body and feeling different physical sensations can be soothing and helps relieve overwhelming thoughts or feelings.
Swings or climbing apparatus in the garden can be great tools for this and will help provide hours of fun while spending a bit of time outdoors.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, our giant swing activity provides an exhilarating sensory experience that will get guests moving in new ways. Our adaptive harnesses ensure everyone feels safe and supported, allowing them to focus on building confidence and having an amazing time!
Sensory Blackout Tent
Sometimes someone with autism may feel overstimulated and unable to process lots of things going on. This is when controlling sensory input can be incredibly useful.
A blackout tent or even a room catered to the sensory needs of an individual provides a place where they can retreat without the fear of becoming overwhelmed.
A tent or retreat like this can be customised to each individual and made extra comfortable with weighted blankets or other personal items that bring peace.
Providing adventure holidays that are accessible to all is at the heart of what we do here at Calvert Exmoor. Our activities are adapted to the needs of each individual, so people with autism and disabilities can enjoy their time with us to the fullest.
To book your adventure break, get in touch with our wonderful team!
When on one of our holidays for people with disabilities in Devon, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in numerous exciting adventure activities, including ziplining.
We believe it’s what you can do that counts, so ensure that our activities can be adapted to suit the needs of all our guests, no matter their age or ability.
We often get questions about whether people with disabilities can really do these activities, and the answer to that is, of course, yes! Ensuring everyone can try adrenaline activities is at the heart of what we do; take a look at our range of accessible activities if you’re curious about all the experiences we offer.
Adrenaline Activities for People with Disabilities
Lots of fun outdoor activities (like ziplining, abseiling or our giant swing) will give you a boost of adrenaline, heightening your sense of enjoyment and providing that undeniable rush!
Many might think that traditional adrenaline activities are not accessible to people with disabilities, but that is just not true. Everyone should be able to experience the thrill of whizzing down a zip wire at full speed – and with adaptive equipment and the right support, they can.
Accessible Ziplining at Calvert Exmoor
So, what can you expect when trying the zip wire activity at Calvert Exmoor?
Like any other kind of zip wire, our zipline starts from an elevated height where you will be fitted into a harness with the help of our qualified instructors, ensuring you feel safe and comfortable before you go zipping down the line at full speed!
We use a range of adapted harnesses and tailored supports, so guests with different disabilities can enjoy this activity to the fullest.
This activity will certainly take you to new heights as you’ll be soaring among the trees and experiencing new views of our wonderful centre.
Depending on how many other people are in your group, you may be able to have several goes on the zip wire, making the most of the experience and capturing that thrilling sensation again and again.
Anyone, no matter who they are or their circumstance, is sure to have a blast with this exhilarating activity. You can read our guest stories to learn more about how enjoyable ziplining and our other activities are.
If you discover that you have more than a head for heights, you’ll also be itching to try something like abseiling or our crate stack activity.
Discover how we make our abseiling activities accessible to all.
The Benefits of Zip Wire Activities
Any kind of outdoor adventure activity comes with a whole host of both mental and physical benefits. Simply spending time in nature can help relieve anxiety and stress while also encouraging you to be more active and open to new opportunities.
Our zip wire activity offers a great sensory experience, allowing individuals to feel new sensations.
It can also help boost confidence and give individuals a sense of determination. We understand that the zip wire can be a daunting prospect for some, especially if it is a totally new experience, but many of our guests take the challenge in their stride and emerge with renewed self-belief.
Plus, going down the zip wire is just plain fun!
If you or someone you know would love to experience our range of exciting inclusive adventure activities, why not organise a stay with us? To find out more about booking an accessible break at Calvert Exmoor, please get in touch.
What are the Benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Interacting with animals can have social, physical and emotional benefits, whether this means spending time with a pet or doing activities alongside animals, such as horse riding.
There has been a rising interest in animal and pet therapy in recent years as more people have started experiencing its positive effects and more research is done into the area.
Horses make wonderful therapy animals – when on one of our accessible holidays in Devon, you have the opportunity to get to know our lovely horses, with the chance to ride them, ride in a carriage and interact with these gentle creatures during your stay!
You can find out more about the benefits of horse riding for people with disabilities in our guide.
What is Animal-Assisted Therapy?
Animals have been helping people for centuries, assisting us on farms and providing companionship. They can also help people with mental and physical disabilities as a form of therapy.
Stroking animals and spending time with them has been found to help temper feelings of anxiety and lower blood pressure, among many other benefits, making it a wonderful tool alongside other forms of mental and physical therapies.
Many find that animals accept you without question and are willing to show affection no matter who you are. Therefore, they can offer some relief for people who are worried about being judged or rejected in some way.
The kind of animals used for therapeutic purposes may depend on the individual seeking animal-assisted therapy and their disability. Common therapy animals include:
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’ve seen some of the benefits interacting with horses can have first-hand, so understand how rewarding it can be for people of all abilities to spend time with animals.
Discover some of the top benefits of animal-assisted therapy.
Animal Therapy can Improve Your Mood
Interacting with animals can be a great mood-booster for anyone – there’s nothing better than a dog showering you with some love!
The simple act of stroking an animal can prompt your brain to release mood-boosting hormones like serotonin and oxytocin, helping to improve your overall mood and make you feel more relaxed.
Animal Therapy can Support Mental Health
As well as improving general mood, animal therapy can be beneficial for a range of mental health conditions and disorders.
The comforting power of animals means interacting with them can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. People have also reported a reduction in feelings of boredom and loneliness when accompanied by a furry or feathery (or even scaly) friend.
Animals can also provide an escape from negative emotions and decrease perceptions of pain.
Thanks to these benefits, this therapeutic practice can be beneficial for people with:
Animal Therapy can Support Physical Health
Taking care of a pet, meeting a therapy animal or participating in animal-based activities can encourage you to exercise and move in new ways. While doing so, you’ll likely also be spending more time outdoors, which comes with a whole host of mental and physical benefits of its own!
As you pet or play with an animal and learn the best ways to interact with them, you can improve motor skills and coordination too.
Being in the presence of an animal can also make you feel more motivated to do activities that support movement and exercise, boosting physical well-being and encouraging you to try new things.
Animal Therapy can Improve Social & Communication Skills
In many cases, animal therapy opens the door to social interactions, as you can bond with other pet owners or the other people taking part in things like horse riding sessions.
Building a bond with animals can also create a feeling of social support, helping people feel like they are not alone. This too can support the development of social support skills that can translate into other areas of their life.
As animals can’t talk and tell you what they want, finding new ways to communicate and interpret their actions is often necessary. This means developing new communication skills or learning what their behaviours might mean.
Animal Therapy can Boost Self-Esteem
As already mentioned, animals won’t judge you and will accept everyone who treats them kindly.
This can help boost self-esteem for people who are worried about not being able to accomplish certain things or not being ‘good enough’ – a therapy animal will love spending time with you no matter what!
Accessible Horse Riding & Stable Activities at Calvert Exmoor
Getting to know our friendly horses and ponies here at Calvert Exmoor is a great way to reap the benefits of animal-assisted therapy.
Some of the horse-based activities our guests can take part in include:
- Horse riding
- Playing games to improve riding confidence
- Riding in a horse-drawn carriage for wheelchair users, those who can’t mount a horse or those who cannot ride safely due to a weight limit
- Meeting and stroking the different horses for an exciting sensory experience
- Learning about horse behaviour and how to communicate with them
- Grooming, tacking up and mucking out
- Pony agility sessions to guide ponies around obstacles
These activities are run by our expert members of stable staff, who will ensure that people of all abilities feel safe and comfortable when interacting with the horses.
Horses are gentle and incredibly intelligent, and our horses are just as professional as the rest of our team, so you can be sure they’ll help you have the best experience possible!
If horse-riding or any of our other inclusive adventure activities sounds like something you or someone you know would love, why not take this opportunity to book an accessible holiday with us at Calvert Exmoor?
To discuss your trip, please get in touch with our team.
If you want to have an adventure in the great outdoors, then orienteering is the sport for you! Whether you want to go on an exciting escapade through the wilderness or just get to grips with using a map, there are plenty of ways to experience orienteering.
While something like orienteering might initially seem inaccessible, there are many ways it can be adapted to suit the needs of each individual taking part. At Calvert Exmoor, we endeavour to make all our adventure activities accessible to all, ensuring that no matter your ability, you can enjoy a wide range of exhilarating outdoor experiences.
What is Orienteering
Orienteering is an activity where you find specific markers or checkpoints using a map and compass.
There is no set course, and the aim is to make your way to each point on the map, figuring out the best route as you go. Deciding how to get from A to B in the best way is all part of the challenge and fun of orienteering; it is something that takes concentration, practice and skill.
In competitive orienteering, the aim is to find each marker (a square made of a white and orange triangle) in the fastest time. If you’re just taking part for fun, it’s all about the journey you make and the skills you pick up along the way.
The Benefits of Orienteering For People with Disabilities
Our adventure breaks encourage people with different disabilities to enjoy the benefits of spending time outdoors doing exciting activities. Orienteering is a wonderfully adaptive activity that allows you to take things at your own pace and appreciate the natural world around you.
Most of the time, orienteering will take place outdoors, and you’ll explore trails and moorland or woodland paths. So long as you ensure the route and surrounding area is accessible, there is no reason why everyone cannot have a go at this sport.
Benefits of orienteering include:
- Spending time outdoors, which can improve health and wellbeing.
- Providing an opportunity to exercise, improve physical fitness, coordination and stamina.
- Learning how to map read and use a compass, which encourages you to focus on a goal and concentrate.
- Bonding with others and improving communication skills.
Safety Considerations When Orienteering
We wouldn’t recommend orienteering alone, especially for those who haven’t done it before. Instead, treat it as a group activity where everyone can contribute to the quest as you figure out where to go next as a team.
Everyone can contribute to the activity by recognising map colours, using the compass or looking out for buildings and features.
How is Orienteering Adapted for People with Disabilities?
Trail Orienteering, or TrailO, is a version of competitive orienteering that ensures people of all abilities can participate. This form of the sport is designed to reduce the physical components of orienteering, with a greater focus on the puzzle-solving aspect, making it more accessible to wheelchair users and those with limited mobility.
Unlike other forms of orienteering, there is a set route to follow, as shown on a map. The challenge is to find the right markers, among many.
Participants use map reading and navigational skills to complete the course and find the correct markers as they go along. Several markers can be found at a site, but only one will exactly match the description and position.
Orienteering at Calvert Exmoor
Orienteering is one of the many exciting activities we offer as part of the Calvert experience. The sport is a great way of exploring the trails around our accessible site and encourages guests to enjoy spending time outdoors.
We have a range of fun ‘themed’ markers around the site for guests to find as they learn how to navigate and map read. This offers a great opportunity for guests to work together, develop friendships and work on their problem-solving skills.
Guests are also welcome to ask reception staff or instructors to do orienteering in their own time as our trails are safe and easily navigable.
Expert Orienteering Tips for Beginners
So you like the sound of orienteering but don’t know where to start?
Back in 2020, Sam, one of our activity instructors, gave his top tips for those that want to have a go at orienteering and enjoying the great outdoors in this exciting way.
1. Use Your Map & Compass
“Figure out where on the map you are before going anywhere. Often the starting point is identified on an orienteering map, but if not, you can do this by looking around you.
Roads or paths marked on the map that lead north are a great way to identify your location, perhaps things like a split in the path with one route going north. Check your compass to make sure.
I like to orientate the map, so the path I am currently on is in line with where I am going; this might mean turning the map so the path points in the same direction of travel. Make sure to keep north in mind and to turn the map northwards are regular intervals.”
2. Plan Your Route
“Pick the first point you have been tasked to find, and before moving off, plan where you are going. It is a good idea to visualise where you will be going at all times. I find identifying a shape useful. For example, if you know the overall route is a rough circle, then most of the turnings will bear in the same direction.
Say to yourself and the other people in your group things like ‘OK so we take this path, then a left, and after some distance, we should see a gate’ as you go along.”
3. Keep Locating Yourself on the Map
“A control point or marker is great for confirming your location. Once you have found and confirmed it, you will be able to say with certainty where you are on the map. You can then use your compass to orientate yourself in the direction of the next control point and plan the next leg accordingly.
However, it’s very important to check that the point you have found is the correct one. It’s easy to see a marker on the way to another and then assume your position, which could cause navigation errors or make you lose your place on the map.
Relocation – finding your position on the map if lost – is not simple and can seem scary. Often there is no single way to relocate your position on the map straight away, so continue onwards until you can find features that you can relate to on the map.”
4. Use Your Surroundings to Your Advantage
“Landmarks; buildings, roads, hills and lakes are obvious features both on the map and when looking around that can help guide you in the right direction.
‘Line’ features (paths or fences) visible on the map can be followed or used to orientate yourself in a direction.
This is useful in relocating yourself if you have gone wrong and are lost.
Again communicate with each other and ensure you have shared goals as you travel: ‘We need to keep this hill on our left-hand side as we cross this field’ or ‘the next marker should be on the other side of that stream’ and so on.”
5. Figure Out Distances
“It is very easy to overshoot and miss a set point or marker, especially early on when excitement and energy levels are high.
If you know the next point is, say, 100m along the path, then keep this in mind, and if you feel you have gone farther, then you might well have missed it and gone too far. Time to turn around and relocate!”
Anyone can enjoy orienteering and all the benefits it can bring! If you or someone you know is interested in our orienteering activities or any of our other accessible adventure activities, why not book a break with us a Calvert Exmoor?
If you have any questions about booking an adventure holiday with us, please get in touch with our fantastic team.
Initially, spending time away from home on an overnight residential trip can feel daunting – for both parent and child.
However, trips like this can provide invaluable experiences as they encourage children to become more independent, boost their confidence and offer exciting new opportunities for learning outside of the classroom.
Not to mention, a residential packed with activities and adventure is loads of fun, and somewhere kids are bound to make loads of fantastic memories!
As an accessible holiday site, we’ve seen the positive impact that our outdoor activity school residential trips can have for children of all ages and abilities.
Hopefully, some of our tips below will help clear some of those activity break nerves, leaving your child with plenty of excitement for their upcoming trip.
Talk About the Residential Trip
Begin by asking your child how they feel about the trip. They might be nervous because they are unsure about what to expect or are worried about a particular aspect of their break away.
Expressing worries can do a lot to release those initial anxieties. Take the time to go through each concern and give reassurance by creating solutions together.
If your child is nervous about a visit to us at Calvert Exmoor, take a look at our website together so they can see our array of photos, get an idea of what to expect, and learn about how their trip will work once they arrive.
Create a List of Positives
Even if your child is feeling nervous, there may be some aspects of the trip they are especially looking forward to.
Discuss these positive feelings with your child and create a list of all the accessible adventure activities they are excited to try. This can help them become more open to embracing the experience and replace feelings of anxiety with anticipation.
Turn the Positives into a Poster
After creating a list of all the exciting opportunities coming their way, try turning these ideas into a visual.
Creating something like some simple doodles, a poster or scrapbook helps your child visualise the activities they’ll be doing, making them more of a reality and less of a scary unknown.
Flip the Fear
Instead of using words like nervous, anxious or worried when talking about the overall experience of the residential trip, encourage your child to reframe these thoughts more positively and replace the word with ‘excited’.
With the understanding that nervousness and excitement have incredibly similar physical responses, transforming nervous energy with positive energy can be an effective solution.
Get to Know the Location
Familiarising yourself with an unknown situation or location can be one of the best ways to temper fears.
Look up your child’s destination with them and explore the area together. Have a look at pictures of the surrounding sites to help your child build up a picture of where they’re going and what they’ll be doing.
This process can also uncover facts about the place that might be of special interest to your child, helping them feel more excited about visiting someone or somewhere they want to find out more about.
Arrange a Sleepover or Mini Trip Away
Easing your child into the idea of a residential with a smaller trip helps them acclimatise to the idea of spending time away from home.
A trip to a friend’s or grandparent’s house means your child can get used to you not being there while still being in a familiar and comfortable environment.
Create a List of Things to Take
When the trip gets nearer, compile a list of things to take. Write this list together, so your child feels they have some ownership of the experience and are involved in every step.
Having a physical list to check can also ensure that your child doesn’t leave anything behind when it’s time to return home.
Take a look at our essential things to pack for an accessible activity holiday to ensure your child has a comfortable time away.
Pack for the Trip Together
Packing for a trip can build up a sense of excitement and anticipation. Ensuring they’ve got everything they need will also help your child feel more involved and will encourage a sense of independence.
This might be your child’s first trip away without you – which can be a big step. Explore this idea of independence with them and discuss all the things they will be able to accomplish on their own.
When it comes to saying goodbye, remind them that you’ll see them soon and can’t wait to hear about all the adventures they have.
Making the Most of a Residential Trip
Residentials often provide exciting and memorable experiences, so encourage your child to appreciate this and make the most of their adventure holiday.
You could give them a special journal or even a camera to document their break and remember all the wonderful experiences they had.
The Benefits of Residential Trips for Children with Disabilities
Ensuring everyone can take part in exciting adventure activities is at the heart of what we do at Calvert Exmoor.
When your child visits our accessible activity centre, they will be well looked after and have the opportunity to participate in an array of activities – whether they can’t wait to have a go at climbing, cycling or bushcraft, there are loads of things for them to look forward to.
A residential trip full of activities can offer many benefits to children of all abilities. It can:
- Encourage independence and resilience
- Boost confidence and self-belief
- Reduce feelings of anxiety and stress
- Provide new experiences and opportunities
- Provide the chance to make new friends.
Many of our guests have experienced ongoing benefits from their time with us as they get the chance to grow and develop at their own pace.
Hopefully, we have inspired some confidence and excitement in you and your child as you prepare for their adventure break.
As well as running school residential trips, Calvert Exmoor also welcomes adult guests with disabilities, encouraging the mindset that no matter who you are and no matter your circumstance, it’s what you can do that counts.
To find out more about what we do and the exciting opportunities available, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our wonderful team.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’re firm believers in the restorative powers of the natural world for those both young and old!
There are numerous benefits of spending time in nature, which we’re keen to embrace when offering our activity holidays for disabled people and their families.
Just being outdoors and enjoying activities in nature can improve general health and wellbeing, helping to ease feelings of anxiety. Find out just how beneficial outdoor activities can be below.
The Mental Health Benefits of Spending Time in Nature
The positive effects of spending time in nature have now been well documented. Being in green spaces can help boost your mood, reduce feelings of stress, make you feel more relaxed and even improve confidence.
Bringing nature into child’s life as well as your own can be greatly beneficial, whether they experience anxiety or not – doing things like gardening, going for walks or taking part in outdoor adventure activities can improve general wellbeing and open the door to new experiences!
10 Ways Outdoor Activities Help a Child with Anxiety
So how do these benefits of spending time outdoors take shape for children with anxiety?
1. Improved Sense of Wellbeing
Accessible outdoor adventure activities usually take place in quiet places, surrounded by the natural world and away from the hustle of everyday life. Here at Calvert Exmoor, we’re located in the countryside next to a national park and love the tranquillity that it can bring!
Just being in an environment surrounded by nature like this can improve wellbeing and make children more relaxed, reducing anxiety in general. Fresh air, trees and serene views can put the mind at ease, even at a young age.
2. Encouraging Acceptance of New Experiences
Structured outdoor activities can encourage an openness to new experiences. Doing new activities helps children learn that they can do things they didn’t think possible, which reduces fears, worries and anxieties.
Having support and encouragement from those around them can also improve their experience, help them overcome phobias, boost social confidence and build positive memories.
3. A New Way of Thinking
By participating in new experiences, children can develop a new way of thinking.
For example, a child abseiling for the first time has probably never thought about how to abseil before. In the build-up, they may be nervous and worried about falling. Yet, with the help of activity instructors and those around them, the child will learn about the equipment, how the ropes work, and will take on important information.
This makes them focus on how to abseil rather than worrying about whether they can or not, reducing anxiety.
4. Increased Confidence & Independence
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement during outdoor activities, which improves confidence and self-belief.
Completing an activity teaches a child that they are good enough to do it, which can inspire them to tackle other challenges with new enthusiasm. Feelings of self-doubt are overcome and replaced with perseverance – improving confidence and reducing anxiety levels.
5. Different Stimulation
Doing outdoor activities provides different and new stimuli. By embracing these differences, children learn to confront unfamiliar places more confidently. Seeing, smelling, hearing and doing new things becomes less overwhelming, and the idea of somewhere ‘new’ becomes less daunting.
6. Connecting with Others
A sense of belonging and community can form between children when in an unfamiliar environment. The process of doing new activities together connects children, especially when several of the group are anxious.
The shared feelings of uncertainty are often what bonds children who have just met, and they can quickly form a team or friendship.
7. Acquiring New Skills
By doing inclusive outdoor activities, children can learn skills while improving general coordination and motor skills. In the long run, this improves self-confidence and allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
Feelings of anxiety can be reduced as they build confidence and experience different ways to learn and succeed.
8. Reduced Stress
It is well documented that stress and fatigue, caused by any number of things, can contribute to anxiety. A stressed child could struggle to deal with their feelings, increasing anxiety.
Outdoor activities help overcome phobias such as heights, encourage socialising and offer positive life experiences, reducing stress and lowering anxiety levels.
9. Feelings of Responsibility & Control
Children can have anxiety because of what they are going through at a particular moment in time. Giving them the responsibility and control over the situation helps reduce fears.
During outdoor activity sessions, the children always feel in control of their own actions. A child may be encouraged to take part, but it is ultimately their decision if they do or not. Subconsciously this can reduce anxiety as they always feel in control and are able to make their own decisions.
10. Improved General Mental Health
Feelings of anxiety impact a child’s general mental health, and prolonged anxiety can greatly affect them. All of the above benefits combine to help encourage positive feelings and healthier habits.
Read more about how an adventure break can improve mental health for people of all ages and abilities.
What is Anxiety?
Everyone may feel anxious at some point, with feelings of worry, stress and uncertainty being common manifestations of the emotion. It’s perfectly normal to feel these things at various points in your life but can be cause for concern when these feelings are more severe.
Anxiety starts to become more serious when negative feelings last for longer periods of time, and they begin having a detrimental effect on your everyday life. For example, people with anxiety may avoid situations they worry about. This is when normal feelings of anxiety turn into varying degrees of anxiety-based disorders.
How you deal with anxiety largely influences your mental health and general wellbeing. While facing anxiety can be challenging, there are numerous ways to help reduce negative feelings and give you the necessary tools you need to cope, as shown with the benefits of outdoor activities above.
Why Would a Child Have Anxiety?
Anyone of any age can experience anxiety, whether to a healthy degree or to the point of developing an anxiety disorder.
There are various reasons your child might start feeling anxious. Some common causes of anxiety in children include:
- Separation – younger children often experience separation anxiety from parents or other loved ones and feel panicked or scared when away from them.
- Phobias – irrational fears of things like bugs or the dark.
- Social settings – feeling nervous, embarrassed or shy around others, especially new people.
- Life experiences – reflecting on negative feelings or bad experiences.
- Life changes – changes to the everyday routine, new settings, unfamiliar situations, moving to a new house or school or the loss of a close relative or friends can all cause anxiety.
What are the Signs of Anxiety in Children?
Every child will display anxiety differently, but some common signs might include:
- Becoming irritable
- Having difficulty sleeping or having bad dreams
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Losing appetite or not eating properly
- Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- Asking lots of questions or needing reassurance
- Feeling tense and fidgety
- Complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
- Lack of confidence to do everyday things
- Avoiding activities they previously enjoyed, such as seeing friends, going out or going to school
If you think your child might be dealing with a more severe anxiety disorder, consult a healthcare professional.
How Can Disability Contribute to Anxiety?
Depending on the disability or condition, a child might have additional difficulties in social settings and may face further struggles with change.
It’s also likely that their life experiences are unique to them and different to those without disabilities; they may feel that no one else understands what they have gone through and that they can’t do what others can.
At Calvert Exmoor, we believe it’s what you can do that counts and ensures that everyone can enjoy the many benefits of participating in accessible adventure activities.
At Calvert Exmoor, we often meet anxious children who do not think they will enjoy their stay or are worried about doing certain outdoor activities. Once they begin their adventure, they have a wonderful time and love every activity, conquering their fears and leaving with a positive mindset.
If nothing else, children spending time with family or friends in a safe environment helps them relax and enjoy the experience, meaning they can start to understand anxiety and develop skills to get past their worries in other settings.
If you think your child would enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities we have to offer, please do get in touch to learn more or book an accessible adventure break today!
Abseiling involves repelling down a vertical drop, whether from an artificial abseiling wall or cliffside, supported by a rope. There’s no denying that this is an extreme activity (not to mention loads of fun) that pushes people out of their comfort zones.
One question we get asked when guests start booking an accessible activity holiday with us is ‘can we really do activities like abseiling, even with disabilities?’
The answer to this is yes, absolutely! Ensuring everyone, no matter their ability, can participate in exciting activities that may traditionally be seen as more exclusive daredevil activities is at the very heart of what we do at Calvert Exmoor.
Abseiling Facilities at Calvert Exmoor in Devon
Accessible abseiling is one of our most popular activities, with many guests excited to rise to the challenge of taking on our abseiling wall when they visit.
The outdoor abseiling wall is suitable to use in all weather conditions, so come rain or shine, you’ll be able to have a go at making the descent!
We use and maintain the ropes and safety equipment every day to ensure our expert instructors can provide a safe and adaptable activity to make sure everyone feels comfortable.
Can Anyone do Abseiling?
Yes, anyone can try abseiling! Abseiling can be adapted to the individual participating, and our instructors will work with you to find the most comfortable way for you to have a go at this exciting activity.
We use harnessing, safety equipment and ropes to ensure everyone can make their way down the wall at their own pace. Manual wheelchairs can also be used if needed.
Everything You Need to Know About Accessible Abseiling Sessions
At the start of a session, the activity instructor will lead the group to be fitted out with harnesses, helmets and any other necessary equipment.
Once everyone is appropriately kitted-out, groups will be taken to the viewing area at the top of the wall for a full safety briefing before taking it in turns to abseil down.
Before starting this activity, our instructors ensure each person is secure and understands how to travel down the wall. Two people can abseil side by side, or individuals can go down on their own, depending on how they prefer to tackle the wall!
How Can Abseiling be Adapted?
There are several variations on how the activity can be adapted for different disabilities. Below, we explore what you can expect from all our adaptations.
There is nothing stopping wheelchair users from abseiling – in fact, we think it’s a must-have experience to include on a wheelchair-friendly activity break!
We may use the term ‘abseiling wall’, but it would also be accurate to describe the wall as a steep ramp. The top and the bottom of the wall/ramp are curved, allowing wheelchairs to easily roll over it.
Abseiling Support for Wheelchair Users
To ensure this activity is as accessible as possible, we have a specialist wheelchair that is specifically designed for abseiling. Most guests choose to transfer into it manually or with a hoist. Other manual wheelchairs may be suitable depending on whether the instructor deems them appropriate.
Please note that if you use an electric wheelchair, you will not be able to use it when abseiling and can instead use our abseiling chair.
Once comfortably in the chair and navigating down the abseiling wall, guests can control their speed using the rope system with their hands. Anyone unable to hold or use the ropes will be supported by the instructor.
Wheelchair users on the abseiling wall will have another person abseiling down beside them to provide support if needed and ensure the descent goes completely smoothly.
Abseiling Support for Those with Sensory Disabilities
For those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, instructors can create a system that encompasses rope tugs as a means of communication. The instructor will be in sight of guests who require this at all times for constant visual cues.
Guests who are blind or have a visual impairment will be guided down by the voices of the instructors and the person abseiling beside them.
Abseiling Support for Those with Learning or Behavioural Disabilities
We understand that it can be difficult for people with learning or behavioural disabilities to concentrate and focus or fully understand what they are being asked to do. This, of course, does not mean abseiling is off-limits.
With abseiling, we find that the process of putting on harnesses and helmets before going to the top of the wall breaks the session into several stages and ensures the experience doesn’t feel too overwhelming. This also gives guests time to adapt and allows instructors to go over how the activity will happen once again.
The group will see the wall from the bottom before walking to the top, so everyone has time to process the activity. Instructors will patiently repeat what needs to be done as many times as needed to see the whole group abseiling successfully and confidently.
If they wish, children or adults with learning or behavioural disabilities can also abseil first before focus is lost.
What are the Benefits of Abseiling?
So now you know you can do it, but what about the why?
Aside from abseiling being a thrilling adventure, it can also support participants to develop problem-solving skills, motor skills and coordination – you will be travelling backwards after all!
Abseiling Boosts Confidence & a Sense of Accomplishment
After abseiling, there is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement after guests have achieved something they may not have thought possible. This improves confidence and self-belief.
Here at Calvert Exmoor, our expert team is always on hand to make sure everyone feels their best and most accomplished, especially when abseiling for the first time.
When you succeed at abseiling, it can boost your confidence to try other activities that might have seemed challenging initially. Accessible climbing is another favourite with our guests!
Abseiling Helps You Face Your Fears
Abseiling can push you far out of your comfort zone, especially if it’s something you’ve never thought about trying before. Facing one fear can often create the determination to tackle other challenges with the same enthusiasm.
While abseiling may seem daunting, once you’ve done it, that rush of feeling like you can do anything is next to none!
Abseiling Helps Build Trust & Communication
Guests will be with their group and instructor throughout the duration of their stay, so there is always a social element to our activities and holidays.
All members of the group bond as they get to know what they are doing and become more comfortable. During this shared experience, guests will inevitably build up a good rapport with those around them.
When abseiling individually, the group will watch and provide support. When abseiling in pairs, talking to each other is essential as you descend side by side. The activity encourages friendships and builds relationships, whether you’re enjoying it with friends, family or other members of the group.
Having a disability should never hold anyone back from doing exciting outdoor activities, especially something as enjoyable as accessible abseiling!
Here at Calvert Exmoor, we are dedicated to ensuring adults and children can participate in numerous inclusive adventure activities and enjoy their stay with us to the fullest. If abseiling or any of our other activities sounds like something you or someone you know would love, get in touch with the Calvert Exmoor team today.
As an accessible centre that provides activity holidays for people with disabilities, we offer exciting adventure activities that help push individuals out of their comfort zone. We’ve seen first-hand how breaks away like this can boost a person’s confidence and self-esteem, no matter who they are or their circumstances.
Showing that everyone matters and should be able to experience all kinds of things is at the heart of what we do here at Calvert Exmoor. Whoever you are and whatever your ability, we believe it’s what you CAN do that counts.
We work hard to provide an environment of support and know how important it can be to reach out to others when you are struggling.
Checking in With Your Mental Health & Seeking Help
Over the past years, there has been a necessary and welcome surge in mental health support and awareness, making understanding your own mental health and recognising the signs you may need to seek help more accessible.
For many who struggle with mental health challenges, reaching out to seek others’ help is a turning point. Whether this means checking in with a family member, friend, medical professional or support line, this step is often one of the first steps to help you get to a better place.
However, knowing this doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to take those initial steps. If you are struggling yourself or want to support someone you love, there are numerous things you can embrace to make reaching out to others easier, helping to improve wellbeing and happiness.
The Benefits of Having a Reliable Social Support Network
Sometimes being on your own for a while is necessary as a bit of time to yourself can help you work through problems or uncertainties.
However, too much time on your own can become unhealthy, especially over prolonged periods. Humans are social beings, so it is important to have social networks we can trust and turn to when things become difficult.
A sympathetic ear or the presence of someone we can trust can help prevent, or at least ease, feelings of isolation, alienation and rumination.
Knowing you have a trustworthy network of people to turn to can:
- Improve your ability to deal with stress and anxious feelings
- Boost your self-esteem and social skills
- Improve overall health and wellbeing
Not Everyone Finds Talking Easy
For many, the idea of being honest about their feelings or asking for support makes them feel vulnerable, which dissuades them from confronting their difficulties.
While it can feel overwhelming to talk about your problems, it’s important to remember that those who you care about want to listen so they can help support you.
If you talk to someone about your feelings and they haven’t quite reacted the way you thought, this is also okay. We all have different life experiences, and just because a conversation hasn’t gone as you may have hoped doesn’t mean that someone else might not understand.
The person you’ve opened up to may feel unequipped to support you because of their own issues; this does not mean there aren’t other people you can turn to who will be able to help.
If you feel like you don’t have friendships you can rely on, remember it is never too late to open yourself to new experiences, find friends and join new social networks. As life and our circumstances change, so too can our support networks.
Seeking out a local group that celebrates one of your interests or even going on an adventure holiday that can improve mental health can expose you to new people and give you the opportunity to make lifelong friends.
Bonding with like-minded people can also put you in touch with others who have shared similar experiences and can offer advice on how they would deal with a situation.
How to Reach Out to Someone Who is Struggling
If you know that a loved one isn’t quite themselves, sometimes giving them the space to reach out is required.
However, if your loved one hasn’t connected with you in some time, it may be time for you to open the conversation by letting them know you are around to listen without pushing the issue too much.
By opening the door to communication, you allow them to move at their own pace, ensuring they don’t feel ambushed or shamed.
Creating a Safe Space
If you want to offer support, creating a safe space where your loved one feels like they can explain their thoughts, feelings and worries is essential.
It is not your place to judge, only to show you care about their struggles and will do what you can to help, whether this means helping them seek professional support or just being a friendly face to chat to at the end of a hard day.
It’s Not All About Talking
As much as talking about our problems can offer relief, building healthy, supportive relationships relies on more than just having the tough conversations. Simply spending time with someone and taking part in activities together can be extremely beneficial.
This shows you are there for the good times and hard times, proving you to be a reliable presence in someone’s life and a friend they can lean on.
One of our goals at Calvert Exmoor is to bring people from all walks of life together to enjoy a range of fantastic accessible adventure activities in Devon. If this sounds like something you or a loved one would enjoy, get in touch today to find out more about the accessible holidays we offer.
Going away on an adventure is always exciting no matter your age – whether your child is venturing on a school residential trip or you and your family are planning an accessible holiday, there’s a lot to look forward to.
But before the excitement can begin, you’ll need to think about preparing for the trip and organising everything that needs to be packed.
Preparing for an Accessible Activity Holiday
The accessible adventure breaks we offer here at Calvert Exmoor are designed to be enjoyed by everyone; we are dedicated to ensuring all our guests can take part in a diverse range of exciting, accessible activities and, most importantly, have a brilliant time!
While a stay with us is all about having a go at things you might never have done before (and having loads of fun), we understand that some guests may be anxious about their stay and unsure what to expect.
Making sure you have everything you need for your journey and holiday is a practical way to temper some of this wariness to ensure you can focus on making memories and trying out new activities.
We’ve provided a basic holiday packing list and some additional preparation tips to help you stay organised for your time away.
To get more of a sense of what to expect from a break with us, you can read our guide to weekend breaks at Calvert Exmoor.
Packing List for Accessible Adventure Holidays
Many of our activities take place in the great outdoors, so it’s important to take this into account when deciding what to bring along.
There might be a couple of essential everyday items that you’ll need to pack, but it isn’t necessary to go out and get a whole new wardrobe for the different activities you’ll be doing!
So, what will you need?
Appropriate Shoes & Footwear
You’ll likely need a couple of pairs of shoes to suit the different activities you’ll be taking part in. We recommend considering:
- Durable shoes: Walking boots or Wellington boots are ideal for exploring outside, especially where it’s wet or muddy.
- Trainers: You may need a couple of pairs, including backup trainers, for when you do water-based activities.
- Sturdy shoes: Boots or shoes with a small heel are necessary when horse riding, so consider this if you’re looking to participate in the activity.
- Waterproof jacket or coat: This will keep you dry and warm throughout your adventure.
- Waterproof trousers: These might not be absolutely essential but will come in very handy if the weather takes a turn, or you just want to feel more prepared.
- Trousers: Tracksuit bottoms or comfortable trousers are ideal – jeans will be less comfortable when taking part in activities. You may also want to bring shorts if that’s what you prefer but note that full-length trousers are mandatory if you’re horse riding.
- Jumpers and T-shirts: You’ll likely want a couple of thin layers, so you can bundle up when cold but easily take off layers when you get warmer.
- Casual clothes and sleepwear: Practical clothing is best for when you’re out and about doing activities, but when you relax in the evenings, you may want to change into more comfortable clothes.
- Socks and underwear: Remember to bring plenty to last for the duration of your trip!
- Swimwear: You’ll need this for swimming in the pool and for any other water-based activities. Goggles can also be useful, and you’ll need a couple of towels too.
The British weather can be more than a little temperamental, so it’s often best to pack for a couple of eventualities.
Before you set out on your trip, looking up the weather forecast will give you an idea on which items to prioritise. Weather-specific items that you’ll need to consider include:
- Waterproofs: These will keep you dry and comfortable.
- Sun protection: If the sun makes an appearance, you’ll probably want a hat or cap, sunglasses and plenty of sun cream.
- Cold weather clothing: If the weather’s going to be a little chiller, you might want to bring along a woolly hat, scarf and gloves.
Remember to Pack Toiletries
Aside from clothing, you’ll need to pack a bag of everyday hygiene items and toiletries, including things like:
- Soap or shower gel
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Towels & flannels
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- Hair ties & clips
- Comb or hairbrush
- Feminine hygiene products
Specialist Personal Equipment
While we have a wide range of accessible equipment here at Calvert Exmoor, to make your stay as comfortable as possible, you may want to bring along any specialist personal equipment in order to ensure that you have everything you need to feel relaxed during your stay.
This could include items such as wheelchairs, hearing aids or any specific medical equipment; whatever you need to feel at ease, we’d encourage you to pack it.
Holiday Packing Advice
If you’re worried about forgetting anything, making a physical packing list to tick off the items can be helpful – this will also help ensure you or your child don’t forget anything when returning home.
Adding labels to your personal items and clothing may also be useful, especially for younger adventurers.
If you’re packing things like phones or cameras, remember to take their chargers and perhaps a secure bag to ensure they’re kept safe over your stay. Books and journals can also be great things to bring along for when you have a quiet moment in the evenings and you want to reflect on the adventures and activities you’ve enjoyed during your stay.
If there’s anything else that you can’t go without during your day-to-day routine, remember to pack this too – there’s no reason why you can’t be as comfortable as possible when you book an accessible trip away.
Once you’ve packed your bags, you’re all set to enjoy your break with us!
If you’d like to find out more about our accessible outdoor activity holidays, whether for families, schools or other groups, please get in touch with the Calvert Exmoor team.