“100% felt proud of something they achieved on the trip"
Instilling confidence in children, regardless of disability, by spending time on activities they do not normally get to experience is such a powerful thing. To hear children that are already facing many struggles in their early lives saying they felt proud for achieving something, is uplifting in so many ways.
Earlier this year the Alpkit Foundation helped a little towards a week long adventure of confidence boosting experiences for children and parents organised by the Microphthalmia, Anophthalmia and Coloboma Support. MACS is a charity that supports children and parents who are born with small eyes, no eyes or with part of their eye structure missing, around 85 children are born with these incurable conditions in the UK each year. Gary from MACS explained why it was so important to offer these children a trip like this:
"For many MACS children the absence of eyes is linked to brain development and they also suffer from learning difficulties and behavioural problems. All MACS children need to undergo repeated hospital visits; many have prosthetic eyes to restore normality of appearance and are disadvantaged by their visual impairment, but also by facial disfigurement. This is why both practical and emotional help is needed for them to develop confidence."
We were delighted to get a report back from the team letting us know how they got on.
The first three days was a long weekend for children aged between five and ten who attended with a parent, with the final five days for children aged ten and over who attended without a parent. In total 41 people got to expereince this amazing week. These children have a range of MACS conditions and some face multiple additional health needs which include global development delay, hearing loss and autistic spectrum disorders. All took part in a wide range of activities including canoeing, sailing, paddle boarding, power boat driving, climbing, caving, abseiling, archery, zorbing and a trip off site to the nearby Snow Zone to take part in sledging activity, bowling and to go out together for a meal.
The Older Children.
19 children took part in the five night adventure, aged 10+ which they attended without a parent. This year saw the introduction of a pilot mentoring program for young peoplewith a view to helping them to develop skills for future employment. Three young adults with disabilities took part, (all had previously been attendees on our adventure week, and so were familiar with the types of activities) and were aiming to support younger members to get involved and develop new skills.
“He loved all the activities and spending time with the other children. He's an only child and gets lonely at home.”
“She learned to look after herself. Showering and keeping clean and setting up for breakfast.”
The Younger Children.
11 children took part, each accompanied by a parent. At the start of the weekend parents were asked to write down at least one objective they would like themselves and their child to achieve by the end of the weekend and place them in a jar. At the end of the weekend these objectives were revisited and parents were asked if they felt they had achieved their goal. Nine of the 11 parents reported they had achieved their original goal and the remaining two parents reported achieving more than just their original goal.
One of our parents described to the group how difficult it was for their child to make friends at school as everyone just wanted to mother them - the parent was over joyed to see their child develop friendships and play and talk with the other children on the trip.
“My favourite part was seeing her interact with other children appropriately that has never happened before and honestly it made me cry seeing her with the other girls playing games and become more confident with using her cane because it was second nature because her friends had them and her just having fun.”
The Alpkit Foundation was honoured to help just a little. Weeks like these are certainly not cheap, but the effects are invaluable. Gary finishes up "We are a small charity led mainly by volunteers with just 3 members of staff. Yet we support over 700 families in the UK with MACS conditions. We need to fundraise to cover the cost of this trip to make it accessible to all MACS children. The trip has astonishing impact." For more information please visit the MACS website.
“The best things were the activities and making new best friends forever. Speed boat, climbing, everything.”