Joanna, Outdoor Instructor, UK

Inspiring kids in the UK

I expected a normal day of activities working with Mike and Laura. At about 10am our group came in for the day. It was only about 15 kids, but it was from a community care school where every child has a disability of some kind. So it was quickly clear why all three of us were working.

The booked activities were low ropes, Cresta run (sledges), archery and climbing. After an hour of low ropes, we knew it was going to be a great day despite the terrible weather.

Pans out I have never had a group of kids who were just so positive and happy. On low ropes, some gave it a go doing the 6 elements and loved it, or we let them sit in the tyres as we pushed them like it was a swing. When we moved on to the Cresta run, they had the usual competitions of who was fastest and who could scream the loudest.

We were slightly worried when we moved on to archery, but we each brought one child up at a time and helped them shoot a few arrows.  We either told them or showed them what to do, or they held the bow and aimed as we pulled the string back for them.

After a lovely long lunch we moved onto climbing. Putting all the kids into harnesses, with the help of the carers of course, we belayed as each child picked which wall they wanted to climb.

One girl, Caris, found it very difficult to do many of the activities that day, but she was very determined to get to the top of at least one of the climbing routes we have. We put her on the easiest one as it’s about 4 or 5 metres high. Mike belayed her as I belayed her friend alongside next to her. Her friend motivated her to try and get higher, telling her where to put her feet and hands, showing her it was okay. Eventually and upsettingly, her friend gave up, climbed to the top and came back down, but still continued to cheer her on. Finally with only about 10 minutes left of the day, Mike climbed up the wall next to her. He sat with her trying to get her to go higher because we all knew she wanted to. Eventually she got there, with her whole class cheering her on.

That day was the day I fell in love with working here. To work with such an amazing group of kids, it makes it so worthwhile. Until then, I had never left a day feeling so good. I had never left a day knowing the kids loved it more than anything, knowing that I had probably just made their week. It was so rewarding.

Submitted by: Joanna Lalas