Encouraging Your Child to Make Friends on an Activity Trip
There are many benefits of visiting an activity centre like ours, such as helping with anxiety or improving mental health. An activity break can also give your child a chance to make new friends, helping to improve their confidence in making friends elsewhere.
Talking to new people can be scary whatever your age, yet for many children connecting with others can be difficult or frightening, especially if they have disabilities. To help, here is our guide to encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip…
Encourage them before travelling
It can often be beneficial to prepare your children for their trip, from helping them pack to talking about the exciting activities and fun games they’ll be doing.
You could also mention that other children will be there too, possibly doing activities in your group or sitting near you during meals.
You could then suggest that your child talks to the other children, or give them a positive goal, like to find out other people’s names.
Some children may be anxious about this idea, some may not understand the point, whilst others will look forward to it. Whatever your child’s reaction, listen to their response and give them gentle encouragement to interact with others.
Doing this before your arrival gives them time to process the information and be more prepared to communicate with others.
Work out some ‘opening lines’ together
It may be a good idea to practice saying hello in various ways, especially if you predict your child will need extra encouragement to make friends. To assist them further, try to create some opening lines or questions your child could use to start a conversation.
Examples could be ‘My name is- what is yours?’ or ‘I like your jumper’ or ‘What did you enjoy about today?‘
Practising and rehearsing social skills in a safe and warm environment will support your child by teaching social cues. Planning out what they could say can make them feel that bit more prepared to meet new people.
Lead by example and encourage them to follow
Once you have arrived for your activity break, strive to speak to others in a friendly manner so that your children can pick up on it and possibly follow your example.
You could even use the opening lines you created to show them how they can progress and add prompts for your children to contribute or carry on the conversation.
By modelling positive, friendly behaviours, you can guide your children to do the same.
Talk to them about feelings and encourage empathy
Parents can help children develop social skills during a short activity break by focusing on feelings and empathy, which will help build friendships.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts and feelings of others. Developing feelings and empathy is a complex process that starts from birth and continues throughout our lives, but it is a key factor in making friends.
- Identify feelings, both positive and negative – It’s important to put a name to what your child might be feeling whenever you can. Saying something as simple as, ‘You seem happy/excited/joyful/upset/angry/scared‘ helps a child identify what they are feeling in themselves and can be all they to hear to express their emotions
- Identify feelings in others – In the same way, saying ‘That person seems happy/angry‘ helps children see emotions in others and allows them to identify with them. This can be developed further by using them as conversation starters.
Use feelings to start conversations
During an activity break, giving children prompts increases empathy and provides an opportunity to start a conversation, laying the groundwork for friendship.
For example: ‘They seem happy they did the activity, why don’t you say well done and ask them what they enjoyed the most?’ or ‘That child looks upset, perhaps they are scared of doing the activity. What would you say to them?‘
Likewise, questions related to negative feelings could also allow them to start a chat and connect.
If these prompts lead nowhere, that’s fine. It’s best to not force the situation further, instead make suggestions and allow the children to connect in their own way if they wish to.
Notice and praise caring behaviour
Whether with your prompts or not, make a point of praising your child when they show empathy and engage in a caring way.
You could say how proud you are when you see them being kind and thoughtful to others. State why it was positive behaviour and talk about how it might have made the other person feel.
Positive reinforcement will give them belief in themselves and motivate them to do it again, hopefully increasing the bond between children.
Other issues that children often struggle with are sharing and taking turns. Or they may have difficulty being in a team. When they get these things right, however, it will increase their social skills.
Adventure activities can often be a combination of group work and solo participation. So an activity break is a perfect opportunity to practise their sharing skills and general communication with others.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have groups no bigger than 10 people, meaning it’s easy for children to talk to others and participate in group activities.
Highlight when and how they shared correctly or gave help to others. They may not have realised they’ve done something positive, so nice comments on how they behaved will support their future interactions.
Experts recommend providing immediate positive feedback, that’s kept brief and simple.
Encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip – Summary
- Prepare them before the trip so they have time to process the fact other children will be there to talk to
- Practise greeting others and prepare some opening lines
- Lead by example and start conversations, aim to include your child
- Identify positive and negative feelings in other children
- Guide your child to relate to other people’s feelings and to use empathy to prompt them to start a conversation
- When you see your children exhibiting friendly or caring behaviours, such as sharing and taking turns, praise them – this encourages children to repeat the positive behaviours
Finally, parents shouldn’t place social expectations on children and force friendships to emerge from nowhere. They could make one or two good friends during their stay with no need to worry about them being the most popular kid on site.
With over 25 years of adventure breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor, many children have come out of their shell and made new friends during their stay. Sometimes with help from the ideas above, and sometimes all on their own.
However your children make new friends on an activity trip, it is a magical moment that makes the stay even more worthwhile.
We welcome many families time and time again, on weekend and midweek breaks. They come for the activities and facilities, and also for the chance to meet new people. See more about our family breaks in Devon for additional information.
Residential trips are an opportunity for children to learn, grow, and have fun. Yet for a parent, watching your child leave for a residential can be a daunting or worrying experience. Many parents wonder how their child will behave and will they be safe?
In this news piece, we hope to ease your worries with guidance on how to keep your child safe on a residential trip, even if you will not be by their side…
Learn about the residential
It’s essential to carefully plan for a residential, which starts with knowing all the details. Teachers or group leaders will be arranging the trip but parents, guardians or carers should be involved in several ways.
You could talk to the people planning the residential. Schools commonly hold pre-trip meetings to inform and take questions. If not, consider contacting them directly.
It can seem scary entrusting your children in someone else’s care. So knowing timings, travelling plans, locations and sleeping arrangements will settle your nerves. You can also inform the residential leaders of important information about your child to keep them safe and well.
Talk with your child about their trip
When you have all the details about the residential, you can pass it on to your child in a way they will understand. This helps them get excited whilst also contributing to their safety on the trip as they will be better prepared.
Talk them through where they are going, what they will be doing, and how days will be structured. Listen to any concerns they may have and add reassurance.
Perhaps your child is nervous or unsure about going? The more your child talks about it, the better they will feel. We have compiled some extra tips on how to get them excited for a residential trip.
Discuss safety and boundaries
Another area of discussion is what they must do to keep safe.
Talk to your child about the importance of staying with the group – close to their teacher, group leader or other authority figures, such as activity instructors.
It can be helpful to explain that a residential is fun and thrilling but that they still need to follow the same rules they follow when at home, at school or walking on the pavement.
It’s often beneficial to add extra boundaries unique to their residential. Examples could be emphasising that they must stay in the centre, or that they can’t use the activity facilities until told to by an instructor.
The more conversations you have, the better children will understand the rules, even though you won’t be there to supervise them.
Check out the location
If you know where the residential is taking place, why not spend time with your child looking at it online? Search for the location and see what comes up. There may be galleries on their website or good images on the search engine to go through.
If brochures or itineraries are available, you could go through them together to help get your child excited. Plus it gives you extra opportunities to establish the rules of the trip. If there are maps or plans of the grounds and accommodation, use them to set boundaries, showing where they can and cannot go.
Pack their bags as a team
Get your child involved in the packing of their bags. Since you both know what the residential involves, you can ensure they have everything needed for a good time whilst looking after themselves.
Depending on their age and abilities, kids can contribute in different ways. Let younger ones see what you are packing and explain why each item and piece of clothing is essential. They could then add fun and comforting extras, such as a toy, book or accessories.
Older children could pack their bags themselves, with supervision and guidance if needed. This teaches them to plan ahead, increases independence, and makes them think of their own wellbeing and safety.
Packing together reassures them, and you, that they have everything needed to feel prepared, safe and secure.
See our guide on things to pack for a residential trip.
Make them stand out
One more point about packing is to dress your children in brightly coloured clothes that stand out and avoid dark colours that will blend into surroundings. This will make them easy to see and remember in a crowd or against a natural backdrop.
The colour of their clothing is unlikely to be an issue during a Calvert Trust Exmoor visit, as activity groups are small and supervised by the same instructor throughout. But elsewhere on other residentials, it may be beneficial for their safety.
Make sure contact details are up to date
Confirm that the group leaders have your correct contact details before the residential. Provide one or two additional emergency numbers if you may not be reachable – just in case.
Have faith in risk assessments
Schools and residential leaders will have your child’s safety as their highest priority. They will conduct rigorous risk assessments for every activity and location, whether it be a day out or week away.
A risk assessment must be carried out for each residential, which will help teachers identify and remove any of the potential risks. Schools must adhere to set staffing to child ratios and will keep individual physical, medical, social and behavioural needs in mind before and during a residential.
Schools must also have an emergency response plan to follow if an accident or incident occurs during a trip.
Plus, residential centres have their unique risk assessments and safety procedures with trained staff and instructors who also have everyone’s safety as their highest priority.
Many sites are also audited or inspected by independent boards. For instance, here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we have…
- The Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge
- Five-star activity accommodation status awarded by Visit England
- Been certified by activity bodies such as British Canoeing, the British Horse Society, and more
Residential breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At our activity centre we welcome children of all ages and specialise in accessible breaks for people with physical, learning, sensory or behavioural disabilities. Our residential breaks are based at our remote centre in North Devon, meaning the group stays safely inside the grounds away from busy roads.
The stay will include activities throughout the day, then access to group swimming sessions, the sensory room, and social areas in the evening. Activities, accommodation, meals and facilities are all on-site and included in the costs.
Wherever they are visiting, keeping your child safe on a residential break starts with good communication and ensuring children understand what they should and should not do to keep themselves safe. The residential leaders and centre staff will take it from there to make sure everyone has a wonderful break.
Can outdoor activities help a child with anxiety? Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we truly believe that the answer is yes!
Read on as we explain why adventure breaks and outdoor activities help with anxiety in children of all ages.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion that is perfectly normal to experience. It can be described as a feeling of tension alongside worried or negative thoughts. Which is something we all go through occasionally.
However, anxiety can become more than an emotion and start to influence our lives. For example, people with anxiety may avoid situations they worry about. Others may constantly find their emotions hard to control so it affects their lives more dramatically, leading to many anxiety-based disorders of varying degrees.
Those with anxiety disorders frequently worry about and fear everyday situations at intense, excessive, and persistent levels.
Anxiety disorders and mental health are closely related and often influence each other.
Why would a child have anxiety?
There are many reasons why children could be feeling anxious. Key causes of anxiety include…
Separation – younger children tend to experience separation anxiety from parents or loved ones and do not want to be away from them.
Phobias – irrational fears such as heights, bugs etc.
Life experiences – remembering past events that they believe went badly or reflecting on negative feelings can cause anxiety in similar situations.
Social settings – being shy and not confident when meeting new people, or expecting to feel embarrassed, silly, or rejected by others.
Life changes – anxiety can be brought on by changes to the everyday routine, new settings, unfamiliar situations, moving to a new house and school, or the loss of a close relative or friend.
What are the signs of anxiety in children?
Each child displays their anxiety differently, but common signs 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
How can disability contribute to anxiety?
Anxiety can affect any child or adult, but children with a disability may be extra prone to feeling anxiety.
Depending on the disability or condition, a child may 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. Many people with disabilities feel social isolation and loneliness.
Therefore, their anxiety rates are high, leading to additional disorders.
It can be difficult for children with learning disabilities to express their feelings of anxiety. They may not understand their feelings and what is causing them, so cannot easily talk about them. Trying to express anxious feelings with limited communication skills can lead to misunderstandings, causing anxiety to intensify.
10 ways outdoor activities can help a child with anxiety…
1 – An improved sense of wellbeing
Outdoor activities usually take place in quiet places, away from the hustle of everyday life, especially at adventure centres like Calvert Trust Exmoor located in the countryside next to a national park.
Just by being in an environment surrounded by nature brings on an improved sense of wellbeing and is relaxing, reducing anxiety in general. Fresh air, trees and pretty views put the mind at ease even at a young age.
2 – An 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.
The support and encouragement of those around them improves their experience and helps them overcome phobias, improve social confidence, and build positive memories.
3 – A new way of thinking
By going through 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 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.
Also, overcoming outdoor activity fears can develop resilience and mental toughness whilst creating positive memories, reducing anxiety in the future.
4 – An increase in confidence and 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 competent and good enough to do it, acting as an inspiration to attempt other goals. Feelings of self-doubt are overcome and replaced with perseverance – improving confidence and lowing levels of anxiety.
Many children also feel a sense of independence. This could be because they become open to doing activities and exercises that we may not regularly do. An effect of this is a freshly engaged mind and fresh determination.
5 – Different stimulation
Being outdoors doing activates provides different and new stimuli. By embracing them, children can increase their ability to be in unfamiliar places. Seeing, smelling, hearing and doing new things becomes less overwhelming, and the idea of somewhere ‘new’ doesn’t seem as daunting.
6 – A connection 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.
This shared feeling of anxiety is what bonds children who have just met, and they can quickly form a team or friendship.
7 – Acquiring new skills
By doing outdoor activities, children can learn skills whilst improving general coordination and motor skills. In the long run, this improves self-confidence and allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
Anxiety reduces 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, so anxiety grows.
Outdoor activities help overcome phobias such as heights, encourage socialising and offer positive life experiences, reducing stress and lowing anxiety levels.
9 – A feeling of responsibility and control
As listed above, children can have anxiety because of what they are going through at that 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 reduces anxiety as they always feel in control and make their own decisions.
10 – An improvement in mental health
As previously mentioned, anxiety can have an impact on mental health and vice versa. We have another news piece focusing on how breaks at an adventure centre can improve mental health and therefore help with anxiety.
At the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, we often meet anxious children who do not think they will enjoy their stay or are worried about doing certain outdoor activities.
Then they have a wonderful time and love every activity. The children conquer their fears and leave with a positive mindset.
If nothing else, children spending time with family or friends causes them to relax and enjoy the experience, helping them to understand anxiety and developing their skills to get past their worries in other settings.
We provide outdoor activities in a safe environment, with trained instructors who really get to know the children, which also helps with anxiety.
It is not unusual to feel anxious when you are in an unfamiliar setting and situation. It is an entirely acceptable feeling, no matter what your age or who you are.
It is important to remember, if you do feel these emotions, they do not have to remain with you throughout your adventure break. There are small but helpful things you can do to improve how you perceive your new situation.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are dedicated to providing accessible breaks for everyone to enjoy, from school residentials to holidays for people with disabilities. We want to make sure that every one of our guests has the best experience possible, so have created this blog to help you.
Who Can Benefit From This Advice?
We have created these tips for everyone to try if they are ever feeling anxious when they are away from home.
If you are an independent adult on an accessible adventure break, we hope you can refer to this blog to help you if you are feeling unsure.
If you are a carer or a parent with a child of any age, who is about to embark on a residential adventure, we hope we can help you with ideas on how to alleviate their feelings of anxiety.
Accept How You Are Feeling
It is ok to feel a bit on edge when you are away from home, even if you are only down the road! It is a feeling that can primarily occur when your usual daily routines have had to change for the duration of your trip.
Begin by identifying the feelings of unease and accepting them for what they are. It is important to remind yourself that it is completely fine and natural to feel this way when you are away from what you know.
Talk To Someone About How you Feel
Once you have accepted how you currently feel, let someone else know. Whether they are:
• A staff member, such as an instructor
• A family member
• A friend you have gone on the adventure break with
• A teacher
• A carer
You never know, they may feel similar and appreciate that you have confided in them! You can talk about what you love back at home and how they might also like it if they ever come to visit.
It may break the ice for those you do not know so well too.
Remember You Can Call Home
Living in the 21st-century means you are never too far from home! With mobile phones, social media, Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp, staying in touch couldn’t be easier.
If you would like to ring home and talk about things, go for it! There is no shame in letting your nearest and dearest know about how you are doing. They will be able to see the situation from the outside and remind you of all the amazing reasons you wanted to go in the first place.
Talking to your family members will reassure your anxiety that everything back home is ok and you aren’t missing out on anything. Their jolly voices will let you know they are happy and healthy.
Put Things Into Perspective
Once you have accepted and communicated how you feel, it is time to try and gently shift your perspective on the experience.
You feel anxious, and that is completely acceptable. And it is also ok to feel worried but still want to make the most of your opportunity away from home.
Think about the initial reasons why you wanted to come. What activities did you want to try? Were they as you expected them to be? How did it feel to do them? What highlights will you share when you get back home?
Record Your Feelings
Noting down your feelings can be as effective as talking for some people.
You could think about:
• What were the highlights of the day? You could break down the day into morning, afternoon and evening and reflect what you enjoyed the most at each point.
• What challenges did you face today?
• How could the situation be different next time?
Good or bad, it is all acceptable to note down!
Perhaps you will revisit your thoughts in your journal, or perhaps you won’t, it doesn’t matter! Similar to talking, it is just good to get the feelings out in the open so you can move forward and take each day as it comes.
Try to Be Social, Even If You May Not Feel Like It
When you feel uncomfortable, the idea of talking with new people can feel incredibly daunting.
If you are on a trip without company from home, or with people you do not know so well, it is essential to ensure you do not isolate yourself, especially if you are not in the most positive of mind frames.
By socialising, it will feel like a massive achievement in itself and may instantly lift your mood. Many adventure breaks have social areas for guests to interact with. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have numerous social areas for our guests to relax in including, The Barn bar, the games room and our stunning courtyard for warmer weather.
You never know who you are going to meet, so try your best to keep an open mind even though this is easier said than done. You may make a friend for life, all starting with a simple hello!
Keep Social Goals Attainable
If you are a shy person, keep your social goals small and achievable, so you don’t feel too overwhelmed. Try meeting one person, to begin with. Listening is an admirable trait in people, so try this at first and see where you go!
Get Out Your Comfort Zone
When you feel like you miss home, try and reflect back to why you wanted to go on your adventure break and the activities you envisioned yourself trying. Speak to your instructor about your feelings, so they can encourage and reassure you to try all the experiences you thought you would try before you felt anxious on the trip.
Bring Familiar Things With You
Bringing something special to you from home is a popular thing to do.
It could be a much-loved photo, a cuddly toy, some sweet treats or a cushion. Anything that brings you comfort, don’t be afraid to take it with you.
For parent or carers whose children are going on a residential trip away, why not ask your child what they would like to take with them? Take a look at our blog on how to get your child excited for a residential trip for some other handy hints and tips!
Have you ever felt homesick when you were on an adventure break? What helped you? We would love to know! Why not let us know on our social media channels?
Being active is an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Not only are there distinct physical advantages, but the NHS website expresses how exercising consistently is proven to improve feelings of self-esteem.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we promote a can-do attitude and aim to encourage all our visitors to achieve their heart’s desires. As a result, we have selected some of the top sites online where users can search for local activity and sports clubs across the UK.
Whether you would like to try swimming, bowling, football, tennis, surfing or any sport, these sites can share with you the accessible activities available in your area. Take a look at our blog on the Five Benefits of Surfing for People With a Disability for more information on this unique activity and discover the fantastic work led by the Wave Project!
ParalympicsGB has created the Parasport website alongside Toyota. Their goal is in ‘making movement better for everyone.’
The site has been produced in the hope of becoming the largest inclusive, online community which shares valuable information about sporting opportunities across the country. It shares not only information about offered sports, but also a place to read up on the stories and accomplishments of people who have joined exercise groups and clubs.
With an emphasis that everyone should have equal opportunities in trying the sports they want to, they promote that everyone can find an activity that they can enjoy!
What the Site Offers:
Parasport can be used as a search engine to discover available sports across the UK. They also share information about upcoming events regarding accessible activities and provide an online community for those involved, or would like to be involved, in sporting events and clubs.
The Parasport website also has a section of suggestions for sports you can try for inspiration. Each sport featured has a general summary of what to expect, as well as some handy tips on things to take along to a session.
They offer information on the amenities of local leisure centres too.
The NHS provides users with a trove of information for health issues, including both mental health and physical health matters. It offers advice on symptoms and how to get help where necessary.
The Live Well section of the site can provide you with tips for eating better, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising tips, how to improve sleep patterns as well as support for issues with substances such as alcohol.
What the Site Offers:
The NHS provides an online guide for improving your levels of exercise. The advice includes tips on:
• How to build exercise into your day
• A search for events and activities
• A list of disability sports and associations
• A list of national bodies
Here you can search for clubs and forums nationwide and see what there is on offer, while learning about little changes you can make to improve your lifestyle.
Para Dance UK
‘Everyone can dance!’ is the motto of Para Dance UK! The charity is the national governing body for the sport for Para Dancing throughout the country.
UK wheelchair dancing is believed to have been developed in Scotland in the late 1960s. While people were learning how to move their wheelchairs, it was here that it was realised it could be done to music.
In the 70s, the Wheelchair Association began, and in 2006 the co-founders of the charity started the Wheelchair Dance Sport Association (UK), also known as the WDSA (UK). Under the influence of the International Paralympic Committee who rebranded the sport internationally to Para Dance, the WDSA (UK) also adjusted their name in 2017, creating Para Dance UK.
Their goal is to ensure that the sport is promoted in the UK and encouraged as an accessible activity for all to enjoy, especially for those who feel like dancing is something they might not be able to participate in.
What the Site Offers:
The site supplies an in-depth look into the history of the sport, which makes for a fascinating read. They are a source of information for budding dancers by offering information on how they can get involved. The site provides a directory which can ‘Find A Group’ in your local area through merely entering your postcode.
You can also discover a course that Para Dance UK provide and read up on dance competitions.
Activity Alliance is focussed on making sure we all live the most active we possibly can, no matter our abilities. They provide help to other organisations across a range of sectors so they can support the needs of disabled individuals and create inclusive environments.
It is their mission to change their perceptions of what disabled people can achieve and want to make the UK a more comprehensive country.
They work with places such as leisure centres and local and national groups by offering additional support such as:
• Inclusion programmes
What the Site Offers:
The site offers information on inclusive gyms in your area which have been made possible through the Inclusive Fitness Initiative, IFI. This scheme has run for a number of years and has created inclusive gyms and leisure centres by ensuring they are accessible.
You can also search for information on current events and happenings in your local area.
The help doesn’t stop there, as they also provide a ‘Beginners Guide’, with handy hints and tips for those just starting out.
Council for Disabled Children – Transition Information Network
The Transition Information Network (TIN) is an organisation set up by the Council for Disabled Children.
The inspiration behind TIN is to ensure that disabled children have access to activities and sports, which could positively influence their lives.
The site offers a range of activities including:
• Social places
• Weekend clubs
• After school clubs
TIN believes that by encouraging children to join these local communities, they will make more friends and live a happier life.
What the Site Offers:
The site offers a list of activities to charities and groups in the following sectors:
• Clubs and Forums
• Short Breaks
Each area provides a link to the charities and groups within these sectors for individuals to try.
Hopefully, we have provided you with some helpful websites so you can choose a sport to begin! If you have any information on accessible groups and clubs in your local area, we would love to hear from you on our social media channels!
Calvert Trust Exmoor is an accessible site where we want everyone to enjoy themselves! If you require more information about the adventure breaks we offer and are interested in our programmes for Devon adventure activities, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
For those who are not familiar with sign language, it is not uncommon to assume that sign language has one universal signing system. However, this is not the case. It is believed there is anything between 138 to 300 distinct forms of sign language currently used across the planet.
Why is Sign Language Used?
Sign language is used as another way of communicating. It is a language system used mainly by those who have hearing impairments or are Deaf. Unlike the spoken word, where talking out loud is the main form of interaction, Sign Language uses the below as the primary ways of communicating:
• Body language
• Facial expressions
Why Are There So Many Forms of Sign Language?
Similar to verbal language, ways of communicating develop within cultures and groups of people unique to the area they live in. Therefore, these interactions will be different between communities.
Most sign languages systems don’t align with the spoken languages of the environment and tend to be a separate language system.
A good example is the difference between American Sign Language (ASL) and British Sign Language (BSL). Both the spoken languages of these communities are the same; they verbally speak in English. However, sign language differentiates between the two as they are in different areas of the world.
How Sign Language is Developed
It is not unusual for of sign language to advance from a ‘parent sign language’. An example that highlights this can be found in the similarities between ASL and French Sign Language (LSF).
Despite the geographical distance, they bare resemblance due to the introduction of the ‘methodical sign system’ produced in France during the 18th century. Laurent Clerc, a French teacher who was Deaf, shared this system with American Deaf education and created the now named American School for the Deaf.
Similar to accents in spoken language, accents and dialects also exist within sign language. As sign language is more of a secluded form of communication, there tends to be a considerable variation between regions. This is especially prevalent in Britain, between towns and cities across the country.
What Forms of Sign Language are Used in the UK?
Below are the most common forms of sign language used in the UK. As previously mentioned, different regions will slightly differ according to their dialects.
British Sign Language (BSL)
The type of sign language used the most in Britain is British Sign Language, also known as BSL.
Research in 2011 suggested that BSL is used in favour of other sign languages by 145,000 people.
According to the BSL website, it is formed from ‘its own grammatical structure and syntax’. Therefore it is not related to the spoken language of English.
In 2003, BSL was officially regarded as a minority language by the Government after a thorough campaign. As a result, according to the BSL website, awareness for Deaf communications has seen an increase and BSL is recognised in the same way other minority languages are, such as Welsh and Gaelic.
If you would like some more information about British Sign Language, the BSL website provides further guidance and support. You can also discover how you can take a course in BSL.
Influence in Wales
A more recent advancement, a project by Mudiad Meithrin in Wales is prepared to teach BSL to young students through the spoken language of Welsh as opposed to English.
Irish Sign Language
Also known as ISL, Irish Sign Language is mainly used in the Republic of Ireland but is also exercised in Northern Ireland. BSL is also commonly used in Northern Ireland too.
ISL tends to have similarities to French Sign Language but has a bit of inspiration from BSL too. Like BSL, it doesn’t bear a resemblance to spoken English or Irish.
However, an intriguing aspect of ISL is its gender sign language. Due to the separate male and female schools, sign languages may differ between the two.
Sign Supported English (SSE)
Sign Supported English is not a language on its own. The signs used are the same as those used in BSL. However, the signs are expressed in the same order as the spoken language of English is communicated.
The key use of SSE is to accompany the learning process of those who have hearing impairments and are learning English grammar as well as sign language.
Makaton is also used as a support alongside spoken language, for those who may need assistance with communication or learning difficulties. It could help the learning development of someone who has Down Syndrome, a neurological disorder or a language impairment, for example.
If you are interested to discover how outdoor learning can also help child development as an educational tool, take a look at our blog on Why Learning Outside the Classroom is Important.
Calvert Trust Exmoor is an accessible site where we welcome everyone! If you require more information about the adventure breaks we offer and are interested in our programmes for charity holidays for disabled people, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For many, residential trips may be the first time you and your child are separated over a more extended period compared to the usual family routine. As a result, many parents may have burning questions, and in some circumstances, apprehensions, about sending their child on a residential school trip. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we are well experienced in running residential trips, alongside being expert providers of holidays for people with disabilities. With this in mind, we have created a parental guide to offer information on what to expect, as well as to ease feelings of anxiety.
Expect Your Child to Feel Nervous
Feeling nervous about leaving home for an unusual amount of time is a natural emotion that can accompany the residential experience. It is good to talk through these feelings and offer reassurance. We know that helping your child to feel more comfortable with an exciting experience can have its difficulties and have provided some handy hints and tips for those who would like some advice on how to get your child excited for a residential trip.
Expect Your Own Feelings of Anxiety
Being away from your child may produce slightly similar feelings of nervousness. This is also natural and should be predicted. However, knowing your child is experiencing new activities which can enhance their self-belief is a very comforting thought. For more information on how activity breaks can do this, take a look at how an adventure break improves self-confidence for a disabled child.
Know Your Child Will be Trying LOTS of New Activities
Possibly one of the most exciting parts of attending a residential trip is that the guests have the opportunity to experience fun and exciting activities. It is the chance for them to attempt something they perhaps have always wanted to, outside the usual expectations of school and daily life. This is the real attraction for schools, families and groups to organise a trip to an activity break as it challenges people in a fresh and intriguing way.
Know Children Will Always be Supervised
On this note, while guests try new activities, it should be stated that they will always be supervised by a professional and experienced instructor! Talking through the activities beforehand, demonstrations and safety rules will all feature during any activity tried.
Prepare for Mud and Water!
Many residential activities will feature a lot of mud and water! It is worth keeping this in mind when packing with your child and ensure you have packed for the residential appropriately. Schools often supply a recommended packing list, and it may also be worth contacting the school or organisation responsible for the trip to keep up to date with requirements.
Meals Will be Provided
As many children are not responsible for feeding themselves while out of the parental home, this is usually a necessary requirement for school trips and many residential trips will include meals. For any specific food requirements or allergies, the school must be contacted and informed, as well as the residential provider. The school or organisation may do this on your behalf; it is worth checking.
The Accommodation will Have Shower Facilities
As previously mentioned, residential trips tend to be a bit messy! As a result, washing facilities are necessary, and the residential provider should cover this. This may be a high up priority for those parents or carers with children who have a disability. For example, here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, our accommodation is supplied with expert washing facilities which can be tailored to match the needs of the guest.
Additional Needs Can be Organised
Any other requirements should be able to be catered for. An organisation such as our own will be dedicated to providing accessible experiences for all and are only a phone call away from being able to tailor the residential experience to match the needs of the guest. Always contact the school or organisation responsible with queries on particular requirements so the residential provider can be informed.
If you do have any queries about our adventure breaks, in particular, we would love to hear from you. Please feel free to ring us on 01598 763221. Alternatively, you can also reach us on e-mail at email@example.com
Five Benefits of Surfing for People with a Disability
Surfing is a highly active sport that requires the focus of both mind and body. Here at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, we believe everyone should have a chance to experience and enjoy such a fun sport. Our accessible site is idyllically located near the beautiful North Devon coastal village of Croyde, where we offer surfing as an offsite activity. We are in proud partnership with both Surf South West and the Wave Project and are excited to include surfing into our current list of accessible activities. The lessons will be a step above our regular sessions, and instead of having ten people to one instructor, one to one sessions will be available for our guests.
A dedicated charity to surf therapy, an impressive 2239 young people have been involved in Wave Project courses to date. The Wave Project believes that surfing can help children and adults with disabilities, mainly by improving their feelings of anxiousness through surfing. In this article, we would like to explore how surfing benefits those who attend the sessions.
Surf Therapy Research
As a relatively recent breakthrough, surf therapy has not been thoroughly researched. However, there have been a couple of examples such as the University of Rhode Island’s study on the ‘Benefits of Surfing for Children with Disabilities: A Pilot Study’ in 2012. The study discusses how limited participation in physical activities has a wide range of adverse effects, including increased obesity and secondary health problems down the line. It also touches on the psychological impact of not completing activities for people with a disability. Our article will go on to discuss its findings on why surfing should be used to combat this.
The Wave Project also produces a yearly evaluation, which is based on the completion of questionnaires answered by participants before and after they attend a surf session, focussing on feelings of self-belief. It also advocates that providing people with disabilities the access to complete exciting and challenging activities should be wholeheartedly encouraged for both the positive mental and physical implications it can have, as our article will explore.
It Can Improve Physical Fitness
Surfing is widely acknowledged as an intense form of exercise which involves healthy levels of aerobic activity. The 2012 study by the University of Rhode Island found that overall, surfing improved the physical wellbeing of the participants, especially in terms of their upper-body strength and their levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The reference to cardiorespiratory fitness is especially relevant to children who have physical disabilities, as it is understood that it is generally relatively low compared to those children who do not have disabilities. As a result, the study suggests that surfing is beneficial for the physical improvement for those who have disabilities.
It Offers Dedicated One to One Time
An essential part of the surf therapy sessions at the Wave Project is to ensure each attendee is looked after in a one to one environment. Where this arrangement understandably assists in health and safety precautions, it also helps to form trusting relationships between the attendees and the dedicated volunteers. One to one time with the Wave Project volunteers has been described as one of the most meaningful parts of the experience by the children who attend the surf therapy sessions with the charity. The surf therapy experience can feel enriched due to the high level of interactive instructing devoted to the children. Furthermore, it can limit distractions as outside pressures are contained in a one to one environment. This set up also encourages attendees to rely on themselves to achieve the activity under the supervision of volunteers. As a result, it may enhance feelings of independence due to the encouragement while being in a stable and committed environment.
It Provides Social Inclusion
The 2018 Wave Project Evaluation also emphasises the feeling of social inclusion which has emerged from the network of people attending the sessions. It is a sense of community that not only applies to the participants who complete the therapy but also their parents, carers and the volunteers. Some of the volunteers initially participated at the Wave Project as attendees themselves and with this empathy in mind, have successfully created an incredibly welcoming and understanding environment. Furthermore, because of the energetic nature of the activity, the friendship between instructor and child can blossom, and children don’t feel as distant as they may do in a school environment, for example.
It Supports Feelings of Confidence and Self Belief
Both research by the University of Rhode Island and the 2018 Wave Project Evaluation suggests how taking part in an organised activity has the ability to improve self-esteem. The Wave Project Evaluation in particular, found that the relationship formed between child and volunteer encouraged the sense of belonging, and therefore produced the feeling of acceptance. These feelings are incredibly important in improving a person’s self-esteem and personal perception. By sparking these feelings towards oneself, confidence can improve, and the desire to challenge oneself is boosted.
It Provides a Challenging but Fun Experience
Surfing is a truly unique sport, and teaches so many skills including balance, as well as furthering water knowledge. The Wave project discloses different stories in their Report, which emphasises the fascination and pride participants feel when completing a session. One parent from Devon describes how their child goes to school feeling elated by the fact they surf and other classmates are not familiar with the sport.
For inspiration on accessible holidays in Devon, take a look at the dedicated adventure breaks we provide. If your child is already attending an activity break, and you would like some guidance on how to get your child excited for a residential trip, take a look at our blog!
In 2018, over £50 million was raised by the Poppy Appeal. These donations help to care for both current and former members of the Armed Forces and their families. There are a variety of UK charities which have been set up to help former soldiers. The gov.uk website has a vast and useful list of charities in connection to veteran welfare and the service community. In this article, we have chosen a selection of charities which aim to support ex-service personnel who have suffered physical or mental trauma. The charities hold similar values to our own, to have accessibility for all.
Every year, Calvert Trust Exmoor welcomes war veterans for residentials at our five star, all accessible accommodation. For more information, take a look at our accessible holidays in Devon to find out what to expect when you stay with us.
The Royal British Legion- The Battle Back Centre
The Battle Back Centre was created in 2011 by the Royal British Legion. It was implemented to support injured members of the Armed Forces who were hurt while working in Iraq and Afghanistan. It focuses on providing accessible exercise and adventure activities in a safe space for servicemen and women to share and discuss their experiences while growing in confidence. It hopes to help introduce productive avenues for those who attend with their feelings of stress and anxiety. It has more recently developed wellbeing courses for veterans too.
Head to the Royal Legion website for more information or ring:
For serving personnel: 01952 815 670
For veterans: 01952 815681
Combat Stress has worked in supporting former members of the Armed Forces community to deal with the mental effects of their service for an impressive 100 years. It aims to help with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD. It offers various specialist treatment and therapies in three different centres across the country. These include Ayrshire, Shropshire and Surrey and provide both residential and outpatient programmes as well as offering support for substance misuse. Furthermore, Combat Stress has introduced a Peer Support Service, a network created ‘by veterans for veterans’. It aims to provide a secure space for people to discuss their experiences with others who have been through similar situations and is an opportunity for ex-military to socialise comfortably.
A helpline for Combat Stress is available 24 hours a day throughout the year.
For veterans and their families: 0800 138 161
For serving personnel and families: 0800 323 4444
Text service is also available: 07537 404719
The Not Forgotten
The Not Forgotten is a charity which brings ex-service personnel together through social activities and holidays. Help is offered to anyone who has served or is currently serving in :
The Royal Navy
The Royal Marines
The British Army
The Royal Air Force
The Merchant Navy, both Regular and Reserve Forces
The charity aims to inspire confidence through physical tasks, which aim to challenge and inspire feelings of value and self-confidence. The charity also promotes the importance of socialising and creating friendships with fellow ex-service personnel.
To apply, head to the Not Forgotten website and fill in a general information form or print off and send in the post.
This charity has impressively supported for the Armed Forces for over 130 years. They pride themselves on their flexible services which they work hard to adjust and tailor to each individual to ensure help is as effective as possible. Working alongside other military charities, they are dedicated to providing those who seek support are efficiently looked after. These services include both physical and emotional care, including housing, finances, PTSD, addiction and relationship help.
To speak to a Forcesline advisor, telephone lines are available from Monday to Friday, 09:00- 17:30 on 0800 731 4880.
Help for Heros
Help for Heros is a well-known charity which offers support nationwide for those who have suffered an injury and illnesses while serving in the Armed Forces. They offer a recovery programme which has been developed alongside the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre which aims to either create the opportunity for veterans to live independently or for those who can, to successfully return to their military unit. The Stanford Hall Estate has been developed to make this possible and is a vital part of the programme. The H4H Veterans Clinical Advisor has been implemented to aid more advance injuries that require more complex treatment.
For further information about the support Help for Heros provides, please contact 0300 303 9888.
The NHS is not a charity, but it is worth looking into the help offered which is specific to ex-service personnel. They have a series of services which are designed to support the Armed Forces community across England. These include :
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
TILS was created to help servicemen and women transitioning from their service out of the Armed Forces. The aim is to prevent mental health issues developing further than the early stages by giving support promptly. Other affairs such as finance, employment and housing can also be offered.
NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
This could be considered as the next stage after TILS if initial treatment has not shown any signs of significant progress and used for more advanced mental health issues. It consists of intensive therapies and occupational and trauma-focused therapies to treat substance misuse and physical health, amongst other areas which need support.
If you are looking for adventure breaks in the Southwest of England, our accessible site is situated in the peaceful and soothing countryside of Exmoor. For more information on our location, take a look at our blog on Six Top Accessible National Trusts Site in Devon.
Residential trips are an exciting time for all involved. To ensure the trip goes according to plan, preparation is key! Here at the Calvert Trust, we have created a list of recommended items to pack. We have also provided some extra tips to make sure you know what to expect when attending an activity break. For some advice on how to gear your child up for a school residential in Devon, take a look at our blog on How to Get Your Child Excited for a Residential Trip for some helpful ideas!
Look at the Weather Beforehand
Even though the weather tends to be temperamental, having a little look at the forecast can give a general idea of what to expect! Say for example a heatwave is expected, stocking up on sun protection, hats and sunglasses will be essential!
How Much to Pack?
Ideally, you will need to pack enough items to last the duration of the trip, and to be on the safe side, a few extra provisions. Take into account the types of activities you will be experiencing and if any of them will need extra clothing. For example, if the weather is a bit drizzly and bushcraft is on the agenda, an extra pair of socks for that day may be necessary. This is especially relevant for water-based activities like canoeing and sailing as well. It’s not uncommon to pack extra underwear items too.
Don’t Forget Toiletries!
This includes hairbrushes and combs too! For girls, its best to ensure you have any feminine hygiene products regardless of what is expected, just in case. If you do forget, our onsite shop sells them too. For some ideas on what to take, have a look at this list:
The Magic of Layering
When it comes to moderating temperature, layering your clothing is an effective way to do this. Unless the weather is unusually cold, we recommend packing numerous thinner jumpers and tops which can be worn together and removed as temperature increases instead of one thick jumper.
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