A WINTER wonderland greeted families who were being treated to a weekend break at Kielder.
Around 80 people of all ages, all members of the Kayaks – a support group providing a place for young people with special needs to meet – spent an action packed two days at the Calvert Trust.
We joined the group for the weekend.
“Come on – you can do it.....” and “Well done – you’re amazing.”
These were just some of the shouts of encouragement as youngsters from South Tyneside took in the activities on offer at the Calvert Trust, in Kielder, Northumberland.
The Kayaks - Kids And Young Adults Klub – Special Needs - were in town.
One thing you can’t take away from this group is the level of encouragement they afford their young people as they attempt to overcome their disabilities.
The challenges ranged from struggling with problems with hand, eye co-ordination at archery to facing their fear of heights on the climbing wall or high ropes or even just overcoming their inability to mix with others.
The Kayaks, based at Mortimer Community Centre, South Shields, provide young people with a range of disabilities and special educational needs, their siblings, parents or carers a place to go for support and to take part in activities.
At the weekend, around 80 people of all ages were taken on an adventure-packed trip to the Calvert Trust, near Kielder Reservoir, where they were pushed to their limits.
While they weren’t scaling to new heights on the centre’s indoor climbing wall or high ropes, having a turn on the g-swing or zip wire, they were outside building snowmen after heavy snow had turned the area into a winter wonderland.
The trip was made possible with a grant from the Coalfield’s Regeneration Trust and the Community Foundation. For some it was their second visit to the Calvert Trust but for many it was their first visit and for a few it was their first-ever trip away from the area.
As well as outdoor activities, representatives from Kielder Water Birds of Prey Centre brought along owls, a falcon and a vulture along to meet the young people.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, also paid a visit and joined the youngsters as some faced their fears to go on the zip wire.
Kayaks chairman Malcolm Osbourne said: “To have so many new faces join us on this trip, shows just how far we have come as a group in a year.
“Everyone had a fabulous time and the weather this year was fantastic with the snow.
“The weekend really does push the kids to their limits as it is challenging for them but they all have fun and encourage each other.
“We also had the support of young volunteers Harriotte Lane and Chloe Scott as well as Chris Slater (South Shields actor who stars in BBC1’s Tracey Beaker Returns) who has cerebral Palsy.
“Some of the young people came last year and we had some who excelled in the activities.
“But for me the highlight was seeing Hayden Bell make it round the High Ropes course.
“Last year he made it to the first platform but with much encouragement made it round the full course
and then we had our little ones Lily and Nathan who also made it round the course.
“I’d also like to thank the Mayor of South Tyneside Fay Cunningham who also came up to see us and take part in some of the activities available.”
The Calvert Trust was founded in 1978 and is the inspiration of John Fryer-Spedding, whose vision was to enable people with disabilities to benefit from outdoor activities in the countryside. The KAYAKS were recently granted charitable status and rely heavily on donations and grants. They meet every Saturday at Mortimer Community Centre in Reading Road, South Shields from 1pm until 4pm.
The group’s membership has grown from 70 to more than 150 members in the past year.
* For more information on the Kayaks visit their website HERE.