The October half-term saw us embark on our annual holiday, a staple of the PIP calendar. Our student’s excitement for the trip had been building as early as last November and since summer went into overdrive! Our destination was the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Activities Centre which is located in Manor Farm Country Park in Hampshire.
The centre offers day services, activity sessions and holidays for people of all ages with additional needs such as learning disability, autism, physical disability and sensory impairment, and was a welcome, beautiful, fun and tremendously well-equipped home away from home for us.
Our trip started at 10am on Monday. We were very fortunate that Mark, brother of PIP student Gemma, had agreed to drive us there in a minibus so our thanks go out to him. We arrived without a hitch and settled in to our cosy log cabins for the evening, preparing for the gruelling activity filled days ahead.
Day 2 had us undertaking various team building exercises under the canopy of our forest home and was a great opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with QEII activity leader Phil who we had met during our holiday last year.
After a morning of building go karts and balancing hoops we went out on to the water where other QE2 activity leaders Kerry and Tim took us canoeing and motorboating down the River Hamble.
On Day 3 we did archery in the morning with QE2 activity leaver Nick followed by a monster of an obstacle course where we had to negotiate rope swings, see-saws and a labyrinth of underground tunnels. Daryl was particularly pleased with his efforts on the tyres!
We capped off the day with a go on the zip wire which required great teamwork and support from the students to help each other back up to the launch podium after each swing. Below you can see George and Waiel helping Gemma back after her go.
Onto day 4 where we went a beautiful walk through the Hampshire countryside and up to Manor Farm where the students had the opportunity to feed the animals and milk the cows. The students loved the chance to get up close with the farm animals and gave us a great opportunity to practice our makaton signing. Here is former student/current PIP Office Administrator Jo feeding Olive the cow.
Which brings us on to Friday and our final day on holiday. After an awards ceremony where the students were celebrated for their hard work, enthusiasm and support for each other, it was time to travel back to PIP and home for some much needed rest!
The holiday is an important opportunity for our students to get a break from the city and interact with each other in a different setting. They engaged enthusiastically in the activities and contributed to the cooking and cleaning throughout the week. Myself and the rest of the staff team were impressed, but not surprised, at their maturity and cooperation over the course of the week as they adopted responsibility for themselves in the absence of their families or carers. Special thanks goes out to Mark for driving us there, to the QE2 Activity Centre, and to Phil, Kerry, Tim and Nick who were our fantastic activity leaders and made our stay comfortable and thoroughly enjoyable!
By Adam Pearson
PIP Development Worker