Nessa and Charlotte rated this event as a great success. Eight participants had been invited and seven out of the eight turned up.
They all appeared nervous to start with, although they managed to get along with one another and talk in the two cars during the 1% hours journey from the Torbay and Newton Abbot areas to Bideford.
All of the participants and the two project mentors, Charlotte and Nessa had lunch together and everyone ate and sat around talking about what they were going to do and the participants all appeared excited, although some still appeared nervous.
The activities started with paddleboarding which really pushed everyone's coordination and practical skills and it was a struggle against the wind, but everyone worked together to help each other get out on the water and it was great to witness.
Everyone was so kind and supportive of each other. Some of the participants said they did not want to do some of the activities, but with support from their peers, everyone had a go at everything.
The paddleboarding was made up of lots of splashing and falling and not much paddling. ln fact, it was mainly Charlotte falling in. A few of the participants managed to get up and paddle and were rightly super-chuffed with themselves.
The 'ringos' were super-fast and some of the participants were very scared, but they worked their way up to top speed and were so glad they did.
The inflatables course was a lot of fun and by the end of the day everyone was exhausted.
The challenge of travelling long distance from home
As mentioned above, some of the learners had autism and social anxiety, so a small space in the cars with strangers was initially nerve-wracking and they started off very quietly. One participant had some quiet time from the more confident girls by putting his headphones on, but the girls were super respectful of this and let him decompress which was nice, though he would occasionally get involved with conversation which was really positive. This helped them understand others' boundaries and improved their social skills, by putting them in an unusual situation, where they felt they should have conversation with others.
lmpact on those with diagnosed autism and ADHD
By the end of the day, everyone had gelled so well, it was impossible to know who had social anxiety and who did not.
Did the varied activities help the participants to absorb the activities and enhance the learning experience
It allowed them to not get bored by doing the same activity all day and they embraced all the new experiences. lt gave them the opportunity, once they were used to the activity, to change it again and push them further outside of their comfort zones.
Their communication. teamwork and team-building and how they were pushed out of their comfort zone - what were the effects of this / how did they cope / manage / develop / improve
For a few of them, they refused outright to join in to start with, due to fear. Through watching others participate and gentle coaxing from mentors, bit by bit, we managed to get them closer to the activity. Once they did one, by the next, we would remind them how much they enjoyed the last one and repeat it again and we managed to get them involved in all of the activities. For one participant, who was determined to not go fast, to speeding across the lake at 35mph was a huge achievement and we kept praising her. Her smile and willingness to go again showed us she had enjoyed it and felt proud of herself. For the male participants, they did really well supporting one another. There was no macho ego, just respect for each other and support to go on the activities together.
Conversation during lunch dedicated to discussing sustainability and the environment- what was said/ what topics were raised / any fears or concerns raised/ what are they going to do to support the South Devon environment - their home environment
Where North Devon Wake Park is situated, it is dedicated to protecting the environment. All of their water comes from a natural lake deep beneath the ground. They access this water using a borehole, before treating it with UV light to ensure it is safe to drink. They use a natural reed bed system to treat their sewage and wastewater, returning it back to the environment, clean and safe. The ponds that they have created for the reed bed system provide another natural habitat for the wildlife. This provided many interesting points of conversation that were tied in with looking after their local areas in South Devon.