CASE STUDY - ANN RYLANDS SPECIAL PROJECT
In May 2012 The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust awarded a grant to Treloar’s towards the building of outdoor sports facilities for children and young people aged from five to 25 years old who have complex physical disabilities. Often, children and young people with disabilities are told what they cannot do and cannot achieve, whereas the availability of purpose-built sports facilities will enable Treloar’s students to realise what is possible and develop their sporting ambitions, ranging from potential future Paralympians to those who enjoy it as a hobby. The sports facilities were officially opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex GVCO in June 2014.
Based in Alton, Hampshire, Treloar’s provides education, care, therapy, medical support and independence training for around 160 children and young people with complex physical disabilities from across the United Kingdom. Through day and residential provisions, the aim of Treloar School and College is to prepare these children and young people for adult life, giving them the confidence and skills they need to achieve their full potential, and where possible to also become socially and economically active in their home communities.
The disabilities of Treloar’s students are clustered at the most challenging end of the spectrum of complexity. Between them, their students have over 40 different primary and secondary conditions, most commonly Cerebral Palsy and Muscular Dystrophy. An increasing number have complex or multiple conditions which may include visual and/or hearing impairments, epilepsy or mental health issues. A small number also have rare conditions that require even more specialised support. In relation to their current cohort of students:
- 97% of our students use a wheelchair;
- 70% have Cerebral Palsy;
- 60% use assisted speech technology to communicate;
- 35% have a visual impairment;
- Over 30% have little or no speech;
- 25% are ‘technologically dependent’ (sustained by assisted respiration and resuscitation techniques or gastrostomy feeding); and
- 16% have no independent mobility.
Having previously been located on two different sites, in January 2012 Treloar’s achieved the co-location of their School and College on one campus in Alton, Hampshire with purpose-built classrooms and residential houses. However, students did not have access to any outdoor sports facilities which was an essential requirement to ensure the new site fully met students’ needs. Furthermore, there were not any other accessible or appropriate sports facilities nearby, with the nearest provision being approximately 20 miles away.
The aim of building the outdoor sports facilities was to provide a centre of sporting excellence for Treloar’s students and other people with disabilities to learn, practice and compete in their chosen sport.
The impact of the Trust’s support
Before coming to Treloar’s, the majority of students have not been able to access sporting activities due to a lack of specialist equipment, expertise or numbers required to make up a team. Lack of physical activity can be a source of frustration which can make disabled young people feel isolated and can result in behavioural difficulties and a lack of self-esteem. With the provision of dedicated outdoor sports facilities, all Treloar’s students are encouraged to express themselves to the best of their ability through sport, which plays a huge role in their personal and social development.
The new facilities provide:
- Onsite, accessible sports and PE provision for students with the minimum of disruption to their daily lives and study programmes;
- Purpose-built sports facilities which are available to all students, providing them with a full, safe and enjoyable sporting experience;
- Access to a wide range of different types of sports;
- A professional and appropriate environment from where Treloar’s sports staff can deliver both formal and informal sport sessions to around 160 students each year; and
- Opportunities for use by the wider community – schools, other organisations and disability charities.
Treloar’s students now have access to a wide range of sporting activities and the associated physical and mental benefits, which include:
- Improved health, posture, strength and fitness;
- Enhanced physical well-being;
- Capacity to take control and push their own wheelchairs;
- The ability to join in and work as a team;
- Learning how to take risks in a safe environment;
- Greater self-confidence and self-esteem;
- Improved communication skills;
- A sense of achievement;
- The opportunity to be outside, away from their hall of residence or classroom;
- Expansion of social networks;
- Developing commitment and leadership skills; and
- Engaging in what could develop into a life-long hobby and/or competitive sport.
Treloar’s has a strong reputation for producing first class athletes who compete at all levels, from Paralympians to those who take part just for fun. They ensure that every student who wants to,
no matter how severe their disability, is given the opportunity to participate in sport. It is only through having these specialist outdoor sports facilities that Treloar’s can spot the potential of students who arrive at Treloar’s never having engaged in sport or who have an ability that has not been recognised. The availability of the onsite sports facilities is also supporting Treloar’s role as a leading innovator for disability sports as well as their expertise in supporting students with a range of different disabilities to participate in sports.
“When we first moved to the joint campus we had very little outdoor space. When the weather was good we would take our PE lessons outside to the Piazza but would often disturb the classes that were working nearby.
Now we have this wonderful outside court area which is amazing! Not only do we now have lots of space to do football, hockey, wheelchair slalom racing and rounders to name but a few sports but we can make as much noise as we want without distracting the rest of the School.
We use it as much as we can (British weather permitting!) and it has made a huge difference to us as a sports department.
Thank you so very much,” Kim Smith, PE Teacher.