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Outdoor adventure project in Harrogate wins national award

A North Yorkshire County Council service which provides outdoor adventure activities for some of the county’s most vulnerable children and young people, has won a national award for the fourth year running.

The Woodleigh Outdoor Adventure Project in Harrogate takes on 8-17 year olds who are so disabled or have such challenging emotional and behavioural needs that other mainstream organisations and schools are unable to manage the risks related to giving them the chance of activity holidays or off-site visits.

This unique project was this week voted a unanimous winner at the Children and Young People Now’s awards in London. Judges, including Children’s Commissioner Dr Maggie Atkinson, chose the project to win in the “professional development” category for offering value-for-money and empowering all staff to gain the necessary qualifications and risk management know-how to ensure its sustainability.

For the three previous years the project has won national and European risk management awards, beating major institutions – including London Underground – for the accolade

Last year Woodleigh Outdoor Adventure Project provided over 8,000 hours of adventure activity such as canoeing, abseiling and climbing, to 122 children and young people with complex needs, giving them invaluable life experiences, therapeutic support and a sense of achievement.

The project is based at Woodleigh Children’s Home and Outreach Support Service, which acts as the county’s emergency unit for the care system. It offers outstanding 24/7, year-round rapid-response and emergency support and residential care to children and young people who are either looked after by the local authority, on the “edge of care” or who suffer severe disability.

The project team believes passionately that even children and young people with the most challenging and complex needs can benefit from adventurous activity. Not only do they get a chance to pick up awards for their outdoor activities, but their families also get much needed respite, often at a time of crisis.

County Councillor Tony Hall, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for the Children and Young People’s Service said:

National judges have once again voted unanimously for this service”  “A huge effort has been made to maintain the sustainability of this wonderful project because we believe that all children, if at all possible, have the right to this sort of experience.. We see the change in them because we give them challenging experiences and give them the chance to support each other.

Picture Shows: Woodleigh Outdoor Adventure Project staff members Teri Owens and Linda Burton putting children through their paces during a canoeing expedition

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