Back Up adventure

Back Up adventure

By Col Stocker

Outdoor activity residential for under 13's at the Back Up Trust, helping those with a spinal injury rebuild their lives in a positive way.

'I haven’t seen my daughter this happy since Christmas. She was longing to meet other children who understand her’s hard to express how thankful I am!' - Hope's mum.

The Back Up Trust help people and their families to rebuild their independence after a spinal cord injury. To inspire and help them adjust positively. No reasons to stop dreaming. Time spent outdoors, playing and taking part in activities is positive in so many ways, so to help break down barriers and worries they organise residential courses at the Calvert Trust in Lake District, and over the summer they had a 5-day trip for under 13's.

The Alpkit Foundation awarded £500 to cover the direct costs for one child on this course. Just a part of bringing together children from across the UK with spinal cord injury and their families to discover the possibilities of what they can achieve.

Supported by volunteers, carers and their own family ‘buddies' the children learned new skills, including vital wheelchair skills such as managing kerbs, steep hills, wet weather and public transport. The whole residential really benefitting the child, their own and other families on the course.

Sylvia Duggan applied to the Alpkit Foundation and ran through a little about the importance of these residentials.

“Six under-13s with a spinal cord injury get supported by volunteers, carers and their own family ‘buddies’ to learn new skills (such as wheelchair skills), participate in adapted activities (such as abseiling and kayaking), and meet other children with a spinal cord injury. After spending weeks or months in hospital, then adapting to life at home and school, this is an opportunity for the children to 'go nice places and do good things' - and realise that they can still look forward to many future adventures. They also get to meet children and adults who have been injured for several years.”

'I’ve learned to trust myself more and give everything a go.' Olivia.
'She feels more like she has got this - she can do anything.’ Olivia's mum

Through the residential it sounded like they had great fun trying out adapted activities in the outdoors, such as sailing and rock climbing, as well as some classic toasting marshmallows over a campfire. But also alongside this, as Sylvia mentioned, they met other children like themselves, and also adults who have been injured. This is a really important part of the experience as it allows those who have been, or are going through similar, to give advice and support and act as role models for their future. Parents and siblings all bonded with each other while sharing experiences.

"All of the parents said after the course that their children had improved their wheelchair skills, become more confident, had better support networks and greater community participation in sports and activities, and felt happier. With feedback after the course showing how much it meant to the children, their siblings and their parents.

Have you tried any activities you would like to try again?
Ted: 'Canoeing, surfing, climbing, sailing, bushcraft, basically everything!'

What is the best thing about being with other children with SCI?
Olivia: ‘They can understand everything.’

What can you do now in your wheelchair that you couldn’t do before?
Niall 'Good wheelies.'
James: ‘Rock climbing!’

How happy are you feeling at the end of the course?
Ted: 'Really happy!'

From the 100% improved impact measures and the words of the children and their parents ('ecstatic', 'buoyant' 'loved what they got up to and look forward to the next one!!') we feel confident that it was a successful residential!"

Find out about the Back Up Trust

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