PIMIS – “They all CAN, no matter what disability”
Monday 15th – Friday 19th October 2018, 18 visitors
Kim, the Head of Service and Rachel, a member of the team at PIMIS (the Physical Impairment and Medical Inclusion Service) sat down with me at the end of their 5-day visit to the Lake District Calvert Trust (LDCT). PIMIS, from Dudley in the Midlands brought a group of 10-15 year olds from main stream schools, with a mix of physical and medical disabilities. PIMIS have been twice before, although this is the first time for many of the pupils. They have returned because, as service users often say, we cater so well for children with disabilities “providing a really good experience”.
Their aims of the week were to build independence, confidence and self-esteem. PIMIS help a lot of children with disabilities to come to terms with the fact that they actually ‘Can Do’. Kim said, “We have a few kids who really struggle with their disability, and thinking that they can’t do things. We wanted to prove to them that they can, they all can; it doesn’t matter what disability you’ve got.” Rachel added that it was important that they had an experience with other disabled children, in their own peer group. “They tend to evaluate themselves against able-bodied children.”
The group have done canoeing, walking, cycling, horse riding, swimming and their own wheelchair Zumba in the sport hall! Wearing wigs, tutu’s and big glasses it sounds like they all had a real laugh!
The cycling proved popular (“I didn’t know I could go fast!”), some had never been in a boat and some had never been on a horse. One child was “absolutely petrified” to get on a horse for the first time, but he absolutely loved it. “Afterwards, he was so proud!” they explained.
The course has been more positive than they ever thought it would be, “We had an award ceremony last night,” explained Kim, “and the children had to explain for themselves what they had achieved, what they had done well and what their challenges were. There was stuff that came out that was really quite moving.” Hearing accounts about shyness being overcome in children following a visit to the Calvert Trust are a common theme, as are children gaining confidence. “Our goals have been exceeded, and it’s had a big impact on the children,” added Rachel.
Kim admired the “professionalism of the staff, and their knowledge of pupils and adults with disabilities.” Rachel added that “their problem solving ideas to enable all to be included was fantastic; the ‘What can we do to make this happen’ attitude. This was something that we wanted the kids to take away too.”
The compliments continued regarding the dining experience at the Centre. Regarding the kitchen staff Kim commented, “They have been marvellous. Superb!” Rachel continued, “They have been great with the kids – nothing was too much trouble.” Asking about the food, they both in unison agreed how “The food was amazing!”
If groups are hesitant about booking a trip to the LDCT, Rachel offered sound advice, “Come up and have a look like we did. We met with staff and discussed options which really helped make our mind up.” Kim gave advice for staff thinking of staying, by remarking that they themselves do not have to be that sporty; “The Calvert is as much about the [visiting] staff as it is about the children. Just go for it!”
Both Kim and Rachel described their stay here “Amazing” and “Empowering”. Let’s hope we can amaze and empower the next time they visit – we will certainly continue to give it a go!