Getting out and about can present challenges to some Little Champions.
This is when some inside knowledge can make all the difference. Read on for information on:
- Changing Places Toilets
- charities to help your Little Champion stay active
- recommendations from some of the Little Champions we know on their favourite places to visit.
Changing Places Toilets
Many Little Champions cannot use a standard accessible toilet, which can make life tricky when away from home. Changing Places toilets are properly equipped to meet the requirements of those who need them. Each toilet has a height adjustable changing bench and hoist and enough space to accommodate both the individual and up to two carers.
There are over 1000 changing places toilets in the UK, from IKEA to Galloway Forest Park. To find a toilet near your destination visit: changingplaces.uktoiletmap.org
Charities to help your Little Champion stay active
There are several UK charities dedicated to help your Little Champion remain as active as possible:
Whizz-Kidz provides children and young people with vital mobility equipment, opportunities to meet and have fun, and training to help them gain skills.
Visit Whizz-Kidz’s website to find out more: whizz-kidz.org.uk
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA)
Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) delivers therapy, achievement and fun to children and adults with disabilities through riding, carriage driving and other horse activities.
Visit RDA’s website to find out more: rda.org.uk
CP Sport is a charity at the forefront of supporting children and young people with cerebral palsy to stay active. Their vision is “to support people with cerebral palsy to reach their life potential through sport and active recreation”.
Visit CP Sport’s website to find out more: cpsport.org
WheelPower provides a range of activities from Angling to Ice Sledge Hockey; Powerchair Football to Karate; Wheelchair Dance to Wheelchair Fencing; there is something for everybody. Each year, WheelPower supports over 62,000 differently-abled people to participate in sport and activities across the country.
Visit WheelPower’s website to find out more: wheelpower.org.uk
Gympanzees is a Bristol based charity which offers specialised gyms and sensory rooms to provide the chance to exercise, play and build friendships. They also have a lending library whereby families can borrow specialist play and exercise equipment which can be delivered directly to your home. Gympanzees is currently running Zoom sessions run by specialist paediatric therapists which are free to attend. The sessions cover practical topics from complex feeding difficulties to high tone and spasticity.
Visit Gympanzees’s website to find out more: gympanzees.org
The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS)
The English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS) is the national sports body for people with disabilities in England. The principle aim of EFDS is to increase participation in sport and physical activity. Their website has lots of advice on how to access sports and activities.
Visit EFDS’s website to find out more: activityalliance.org.uk/get-active
Some of our favourite places to visit
Amy recommends the Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle upon Tyne.
The Alan Shearer Centre describes itself as a highly specialist, respite, residential and social facility for people with complex disabilities and acute sensory impairments.Although the centre remains closed due to COVID-19, the activity centre is usually open daily to children and adults, offering a wide range of therapeutic and sensory activities.
Visit the centre’s website here: alanshearercentre.org.uk
Lorna recommends Swings & Smiles at the Phoenix Centre in Newbury
Swings & Smiles provides a fantastic place to play for children with special needs and their siblings. The centre provides soft play; a sensory room; and an art room where children can paint and draw.
Visit Swings & Smiles here: swingsandsmiles.co.uk
Sarah recommends Gulliver’s World in Warrington…
With over 80 rides, attractions and shows, Gulliver’s World is specially designed for fun. Gulliver’s World has an impressive accessibility guide with information on dining areas; toilet facilities and whether the rides require upper or lower body control. For guests who struggle with queuing, ride passes are available.
Visit Gulliver’s World’s website here: gulliversworldresort.co.uk/special-needs-guide
…and The Space Centre in Preston, Lancashire…
The Space Centre boasts a huge multi-sensory environment with the latest lighting, sound and projection equipment which are controlled by iPads to give maximum flexibility for anyone with any special needs of any age. The centre has excellent changing facilities including a hoist.
Visit the Space Centre’s website here: creativespacecentre.org
…and Withy Grove Park in Preston
Withy Grove Park has an enormous playground designed to cater for all ages across three different zones. There is a large sand area for toddlers upwards which has lots of slides, climbing and sand buckets. There are bridges to climb, tunnel slides and towers. Access to the park is free and the park has been praised for being accessibility to all. The wheelchair friendly roundabouts are a particular favourite.
Visit Withy Grove Park’s website here: freeparks.co.uk/park/withy-grove-park/
Tracey recommends The Fun Factory in Rochford, Essex
The Fun Factory provides 20,000 square feet of pure fun, providing a clean, safe and exciting environment for children aged 0-13 years. It has a baby and toddler soft play area; junior play area; and a sensory room to explore and stimulate the senses.
Find out more about The Fun Factory on their website here: funfactoryrochford.co.uk
Sarah Jane recommends Chessington World of Adventures…
Chessington World of Adventures includes a theme park, sea life centre and zoo. Ride access passes are available for guest who struggle with queuing. Chessington has changing facilities that include an adjustable changing bench, shower, toilet and hoist.
Visit the Chessington website to find out more: chessington.com
…and Colchester Zoo in Essex
With over 260 species to see, set in 60 acres of beautiful parkland and lakes, there is a lot to be discovered at Colchester Zoo. The zoo has a planned pushchair and wheelchair friendly route avoiding the steepest of hills. The changing facility includes an adjustable bench and ceiling hoist, although a sling is not provided.
Visit the Colchester Zoo website to find out more: colchester-zoo.com
Don’t forget to apply for your Max Card which provides discounted admission for families of children with additional needs to many venues across the UK.
Find out more about the Max Card: mymaxcard.co.uk
For more guidance, Simply Emma is a UK-based travel and disabled blogger and her site is packed with travel guides, tips and reviews. Some of her latest guides include tips for travelling to New York City in a wheelchair; and wheelchair accessible things to do in West Wales. simplyemma.co.uk