When mum Hannah Pears wanted somewhere for her son Harrison to enjoy some activity time, she went right to the top.
Like any typical four year-old, Harrison enjoys running, jumping, climbing and sliding. However, because Harrison has autism he needs a little bit more support during play time.
“Because of Harrison’s condition, large groups and loud noisy environments can be a bit overpowering for him,” said Hannah who hails from Howden. “He is going to school in September and I want him to get used to being around other children and interacting with them.”
Until now Hannah has been forced to make a once weekly trek all the way to Hull for an early morning inclusive play session for Harrison each Saturday.
“It was quite a trip that took most of the day for us,” said Hannah. “We have a close network of parents of children with autism and other disabilities locally and I know they are struggled to find somewhere to take their children to have fun.”
So when Hannah approached the team at Selby Summit Indoor Adventure Centre, they were only too happy to help.
The Scott Road Centre, which is managed by inspiring healthy lifestyles, provides a range of activities including climbing walls, soft play, obstacles courses and more.
Rachael Dashouri-Darling, who is the Disability Lead for Inspiring healthy lifestyles explains how they got involved.
“We have delivered inclusive climb and play sessions at one of our other facilities for over a year now and they are proving to be a big success,” said Rachael. “When Hannah approached us, we used these sessions as a model for something new at Selby.”
As part of the project, climbing centre staff went on training sessions to understand the specific needs of children with autism.
“The staff were taught how to communicate more effectively with the children and how to respond to their needs,” said Rachael. “In developing the new sessions we have also turned the music off in the centre and put more members of staff in to give more support. Because we have put the new sessions on during the week, we have been able to manage the numbers so the centre doesn’t seem too full.”
She added: “The sessions are designed to be fully inclusive so children with physical and learning disabilities can enjoy them as well as those with autism. It also means that siblings and family members can come along to take part in the fun.”
Selby Summit launched its first inclusive session on Tuesday to coincide with World Autism Awareness Week.
And the verdict from the young visitors was unanimous.
Kai Austin, 13, from Selby, who has also has autism, reached new heights as part of the session. Kai, who brought his five year-old sister Skai with him, said: “I’ve really enjoyed the climbing walls. They looked high but the staff have been really friendly and helpful and I’ve made it to the top. I will definitely be coming back.”
“It’s fantastic,” added Hannah. “We managed to get the word around the other parents so there are a few here. Usually at a session Harrison would have lasted about two minutes but now he is having a great time. It’s great that the centre has listened to us and acted. I think Harrison’s going to be a regular visitor from now on.”
Leader of Selby District Council, Cllr Mark Crane, said: “Selby Summit is a fantastic facility and we want everyone in our community to be able to enjoy it. When we work together to come up with great ideas like this one, we are breaking down barriers and allowing people to improve their quality of life. It’s something we feel passionately about in Selby and it’s great that Inspiring healthy lifestyles has taken this on board.”
“We’d also like to thank Hannah for bringing this to our attention and working with us. The success of these sessions is down to a real partnership approach. We’re sure Harrison and his friends will have hours of fun from now on.”
The inclusive sessions will run each Tuesday between 4pm and 7pm at Selby Summit Indoor Adventure Centre. For more information, you can call the centre on 01757 293292 or visit their website: http://www.summitindooradventure.co.uk/