Surrey Special Needs Ski & Outdoor Learning
The first Surrey Special Needs ski journey took place in 1998 following two years of planning. During that time a number of the staff who would lead the first trip, attended ski leader training and specific adaptive skiing courses. There was significant expertise amongst the staff group which included a leading head teacher and the LA’s outdoor education adviser.
The first trip involved five special needs schools in Surrey and 60 students and staff took part. Since then it has grown and most years we now take in the region of 140 students and staff from between 10 and 14 of our special schools. Every year, apart from the third, we have been to Prato Nevoso in Italy, which has become our home and where we are well-known and welcome. A wonderful by-product of our involvement in the area is that the resort has become a recognised base for skiing with people with special needs. On several occasions, trainee instructors from the Piedmonte region have worked with us so that they learn about working with young people with special needs. The group has regularly been featured in local newspapers and radio.
The Charity’s Purpose is to:
* enable young people with disabilities to take part in a residential week abroad with other young people from other special schools in Surrey
* provide an opportunity for young people attending special needs schools in Surrey to participate in an adventurous activity (skiing) where their needs can be met
* provide grants to families where necessary so that financial hardship is not a bar to attendance
* provide grants in order to allow young people with special needs, attending schools in Surrey, to take part in other learning outside the classroom activities
* aid the growth of independence of the participants through providing them the opportunity to spend time away from their primary caregivers
* allow the primary caregivers of participants some space to spend time with each other and/or with other children in the family
* reduce the amount of fundraising required by schools to fund sufficient volunteer helpers
* provide specialist training where possible and required to staff working in the outdoors with disabled young people.
Important dates for the upcoming ski trip.
Find out who supports us.
Find out what drives us to do what we do.
Although we only achieved charity status in February 2016, we have been running special needs ski trips for 20 years. Although our focus is the annual special needs ski trip to Italy, where we take a party of about 140, we also want to make other outdoor and adventure experiences available to young people with special needs living or attending school in Surrey.
We believe that the challenge, excitement and fun of adventure activities should be possible for most of the young people in our special schools. Although skiing is our vehicle, the benefits of the trip last way beyond the week away. We have evidence from the young people, their parents, carers and staff that the week massively increases their self-esteem, confidence and resilience – attributes that will help them throughout their lives.
Most of all, the week is a fun time when young people from many different types of special school and needs can socialise and have a great time – as do all of us.
Mr Alan Cottle MBE