story 1 June 2019

A diverse group

Group of three young people walking with expedition gear

Val has been a DofE Leader at St. Nicholas School for the past two years. The special needs school based in Chippenham completed their first DofE expedition in 2011 and have been growing from strength to strength ever since.

The five participants who took part in the first expedition all had complex additional needs including autism and Down’s syndrome. As this was the school’s first expedition, the expedition project was to design and produce a DofE expedition guide for their school for future expeditions.

In preparation for their expedition, the participants learnt key navigational skills including recognising the four main points of a compass.

The group also focused on what equipment they would need to take for their expedition and which items they would need to pack in their rucksack. By visiting camping shops and taking pictures of the items they would need to take, the group could pack their rucksacks independently.

To prepare the group for the expedition, the group camped in the open grounds of a rented house. This helped the group to acclimatise to the unfamiliar surroundings of camping and was great preparation for their qualifying expedition.

The preparation, assisted by DofE Leader Val, meant that the group were able to complete their expedition in regular conditions along a tow path in Walcott, ensuring they could complete an expedition comparable to their peers.

Completing an expedition with young people who have such a range of abilities meant that the group learnt key teamwork and communication skills. By overcoming such obstacles and working as a team, the group successfully achieved their Bronze Awards. Val says:

“It was lovely to see them all grow in confidence throughout this section!”

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