Trust Norfolk SEN Ski Trip 2017

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After a similar and successful trip in 2015 Will Gant from Hall School in Norwich, Paula Turner from Fred Nicholson School, Dereham and Ryan Carter from John Grant School, Great Yarmouth organised a skiing trip to Tonale in Italy with 14 students with learning disabilities from their 3 Norfolk schools. The group of boys and girls aged between 14 and 19 had instruction on the dry ski slope in Norwich prior to the trip as did some of the teachers.

Ralph, Alex, Sam and Will meeting the coach at the Thickthorn Services

The first pickup was at 9:00 at the Fred Nicholson school and they boarded the ferry at Dover for the 15:15 sailing and an overnight drive to the resort arriving at 10:45 the following day.

The students managed to get some sleep on the coach but were happy to arrive and have breakfast at the Hotel Bleis.
After getting fully kitted out the day was spent sightseeing around the town and recovering from the journey ready for the first day of skiing on the Saturday.
The group were introduced to their instructors Marcus, Sam and Massimo and thoroughly enjoyed their first day on the slopes but were all ready for an early night afterwards.
The weather was great for the week creating the perfect conditions for progress from the nursery slopes to using the drag and chair lifts to reach the steeper runs. The evenings were as much fun with visits to a traditional pizzeria and a gelateria. Other activities included bum boarding and swimming and the food at the hotel and the ski resort restaurant was excellent.

By the end of the week the students were able to ski solo and some had reached the highest pistes in Northern Italy. The time to return home came around very quickly and the group again travelled overnight to catch the ferry back to Dover in time to arrive in Norwich for 15:00 and then home for a well earned shower and a good rest.

The Snow Sports Club at the dry slope run weekly sessions for people with learning difficulties in conjunction with Special Olympics Norfolk and several of the students on the trip have continued to go to these after returning.

Graham Lodge, an outdoor learning advisor for Norfolk County Council, who accompanied the group on the trip said

“Just to say what a great pleasure it was to be part of the team supporting the SEN ski trip to Italy last week.
I’m aware of all the hard work involved in the preparation, the 24 hr supervision and workloads during the trip plus the follow up work such a trip requires. I’m sure like me, following the long coach journeys you may only just be catching up on sleep and the rest of your work! The students handled the long trips magnificently, far better than most school groups who I have travelled with! Thank you all for all your hard work and that of all the staff involved.
The progression of the students both on and off the slopes was a joy to behold. Their self-organisation, resilience and support for each other was brilliant! I’ve been with many groups who are not so well organised arriving on the slopes missing key clothing or equipment which was not something that occurred last week, a credit to staff and pupils. The pupils showed high level skills in getting themselves sorted out, a real challenge in such new environments with lots of bits of kit to sort.
The progress on the slopes was great, with the bigger more advanced group, really getting around the mountains at end of the week skiing some challenging red runs that some of the staff who had not skied on snow before struggled with! Getting the whole group to ski the blue run up on the Glacier was as always a real highlight.
Finally, to see the enjoyment, challenge and progression that the students made particularly around their personal management and self-organisation was very rewarding, and they were a credit to yourselves, schools and their parents. ”

Will initially heard about the Skiers Trust of Great Britain while searching the internet for possible grants and other funding solutions and the Skiers Trust have been the sole grant giving organisation to help fund these trips.

” We were lucky enough to have a grant approved for the 2015 trip (£2500) and for the 2017 trip (£2000). We are immensely grateful for the contributions made and are hopeful for a further grant to support the 2019 trip. We aim to do the trip every 2 years. The students would like to thank TM Ski for instructing them on the trip, the individual schools’ governing bodies for their support and the Skiers Trust of Great Britain for their kind donation.”

Marcus Bishop, Director of TM Ski said

“TM Ski and Travel Ltd arrange school trips from the UK to Italy with very comprehensive packages tailored to each individual school with our main objectives of safe enjoyable learning. With the Norfolk SEN group this has to be done in a very specific way to ensure that all the students get the most out of their ski trip to Italy.
For me personally as the director of TM Ski I have worked with many schools both on and off the mountain and without any shadow of a doubt I can say with my hand on my heart that the group of SEN students are nothing but a delight to work with. Yes there is far more involved in arranging and working on the SEN trip but the glow on the students face, the smiles, the laughter and of course the improvement is amazing.
For me and TM Ski this trip is heavily subsidised because it is a pleasure to arrange the trip as to the amount every student gets from the experience, their self confidence, improvement in skiing right through to the simple organisational tasks they can do during the week. I would urge more SEN schools to participate in this type of activity to see the benefits it brings to the amazing students that come out.
I can’t wait to work with this group again in 2019 – see you on the slopes.”

Italian Ski school instructor Massimo Nobis said

“I enjoyed very much working with this group and needed to rest for 2 days after! I work with the beginners and they do vey well, Ralph say to me “no ski” but he does well and want to ski. The rest of the group start slow and do very well and have good progression to ski the slopes.”