Nine young learners from a leading college for students with learning disabilities are preparing for a challenging trip to Bulgaria at the end of the month (April), where they will work toward their Silver Duke of Edinburgh awards.
Jim Glover, vice principal at the Strathmore College in Stoke on Trent, said the 17 to 24 year olds, with a range of autism, Asperger Syndrome and emotional and behavioural issues, face a testing but inspiring time on the two week trip.
Mr Glover said: “Many of these young learners have never been away from their parents or out of this country before. They will be out of their comfort zone but it is very worthwhile.”
The group will be seeking to gain the community service element of their Duke of Edinburgh silver award. Using skills they’ve learned at College including horticulture, wood work and painting and decorating they will be helping to refurbish buildings at an orphanage, located in the village of Doganovo - about 9 km. away from the town of Elin Pelin, where the group is staying.
As part of their preparations the group have undertaken a number of team building exercises, including a trip to the Lake District.
Mr Glover said: “The learners are really looking forward to going out and seeing how their hard work will be helping other people with difficulties.
“It is all about building self confidence and when the learners see that their work is appreciated, they will hopefully see the benefit of what they are doing. Many of our young people have low self esteem; I hope taking part in these activities will be a real confidence builder.”
The two week visit is being organised in conjunction with the Real Volunteers group, and has the full backing of the learners’ families.
Mr Glover added: “We are very proud of the learners’ commitment to the trip, and of their families’ commitment and our staff dedication too.
“It will certainly be a challenge. We want the learners to believe in themselves and we hope it will prove to be a step toward the goal of living independently.”
Strathmore College is run by Priory Education Services, part of the Priory Group of Companies, and offers individualised courses for 16 to 25 year olds who have learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Learners’ needs range from mild to severe learning difficulties/disabilities and include learners with an autistic spectrum condition, emotional and social behaviour issues, Down’s Syndrome and speech and language difficulties, coupled with other health related mental or physical difficulties.
For more details on Priory Education and Children's Services, please call 0118 970 8068 or click here to make an enquiry.