Diverse Abilities, a disability charity based in Dorset, has launched a new award, the OPT award for young people with learning disabilities aged 16 and over in their transition into adulthood.
The OPT Award gives students the opportunity to complete three strands: The Helping Award, The Personal, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award, and The 48 Hour Challenge. Students focus on one strand each term with activities such as caring for animals, gardening, hydrotherapy, yoga and more. The challenge element of the award is to take on two days of activities these young people would not normally experience, and an overnight stay away from home.
Lynda Larke, creator of the OPT Award, commented: “Students such as ours at Langside are rarely recognised for their achievements and abilities, yet face extraordinary challenges in their daily lives, both physical and mental. Students with very complex medical needs often don’t have the same access to accredited schemes as those in mainstream schooling.”
Lynda works at Langside School, the specialist school operated by Diverse Abilities, and has more than 20 years’ experience teaching children with profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD).
Lynda continued: “The children I have taught for the last 20 years inspired me to create an accredited scheme that caters specifically for children with complex needs, I felt determined to create an award that provided opportunities to enrich children’s lives whilst enabling positive risk taking and personal challenges.”
The OPT Award has already been trialled by Langside School and has invited the Northern Counties School, Newcastle, and Percy Hedley School, Killingworth, to continue trialling it in the 2022-23 academic year. There is now an opportunity for more schools and organisations to get involved, and for more young people to take on the challenge and achieve The OPT Award.
Visit optaward.org.uk for more information about the Award, and how a school or organisation can get involved.
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