story 1 June 2019

A group challenge

Group of four people playing a card game and smiling

DofE Leader Annabel used the DofE spirit when she was approached by Grace, a DofE participant with cerebral palsy. Having no previous experiences of working with young people with additional needs, Annabel was determined to assist Grace in whichever way she could to ensure she could achieve her Award.

Cerebral palsy is a condition with affects movement, posture and co-ordination and meant that Grace had permanent braces on her legs and walked with either crutches or a wheelchair.

Not deterred by the fact that she usually travels long distances accompanied by her wheelchair, Grace was determined to not be treated differently and to complete her Expedition section at the same level as her friends. This determination convinced Annabel that walking for her expedition could be a fantastic success.

The preparation for the expedition was an important factor in determining whether Grace and the rest of the group would be able to complete the walking route. With only basic knowledge of Grace’s additional needs making it difficult to assess whether the route would be too strenuous, the group had to learn to trust Grace’s judgement of her own ability.

The biggest challenge for the group during the expedition was teamwork. To accommodate Grace’s needs, the group had to walk at a slower pace which made the expedition less physically demanding for some participants.

However, there are a fantastic variety of skills to be gained from achieving a DofE Award including communication, independence and responsibility. By working as a team and learning these skills, the group gained a real sense of achievement beyond the physical challenge of the expedition.

The expedition meant that Grace and the rest of her group could achieve their DofE Awards on a comparable basis. The challenges experienced by the participants were individual, but the successes such as setting up their camp in light of their accomplishment after walking their entire first day, were felt as a team. DofE participant, Grace, says:

“I walked the whole thing! I knew I could do it and I did!”

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