On 13th to 17th May this year a group of 18 students aged 14-19 participated in a residential trip to Holton Lee which is situated on the outskirts of Poole in Dorset. The students were from various groups from the school and for some this was to be the first time they had spent a number of nights away from home, they were supported by 6 members of staff from LVS Hassocks.
Holton Lee was founded in 1992, the land was donated through the generosity of the T.E. Lees Settlement Trust and the family of Sir Tom and Lady Faith Lees. Twenty years on, Holton Lee remains committed to meeting the needs and enhancing the wellbeing of those who are disabled or disadvantaged. Holton Lee’s vision developed from the belief that each person has the potential for growth and creativity which enables that person to mature and flourish. Holton Lee provides a peaceful, relaxing atmosphere within a supportive environment and pleasant surroundings.
The onsite activities coordinator Geoff Jones provides a range of activities within the environment which are flexible and engaging which mean we get the maximum participation from the young people on the trip, we took part in some archery lessons and hash trailing around the site. We also organised some activities in the local area which this year included surfing lessons at Boscombe beach, swimming at Tower Park, cinema, visit to Corfe Castle and dinner out at a local restaurant.
The students all tried hard to participate in all the activities even though many were very worried/anxious about doing things they had never tried before, Surfing was the thing that most were looking forward to but also worried about. Joe (14) was incredibly anxious about trying the activity as he is not a strong swimmer and because of his left sided hemiplegia has movement and coordination difficulties, with some gentle coaching we managed to get him into the wet suit and onto a surfboard on the sand – With support from the skilled surfing instructors Joe made it into the sea up to his knees and caught his first wave!! Joe managed to stay in the water for over an hour on coming out of the water Joe said “that was the best experience of my life!”
The whole week was incredibly successful and all the students returned to school on the Friday happy, relaxed and talking animatedly about their time away. One of the supporting staff Gail said “It’s great to see how much the students benefit from this experience, it really helps to give them shared experiences to talk about meaning that their social skills are improved and they learn to be part of a larger group. It is great for the students to have the opportunity to go away and do things out of their comfort zone with people they would not usually do them with.” Parents were thrilled with what their children achieved one parent said “this is the first time my son has stayed away from home for a whole week without calling to be picked up mid way through.”
We aim to provide them with a 'tool box for life' - a variety of skills and coping mechanisms that they can take with them in to the future.