Seventeen young people with a range of medical conditions and learning difficulties had a great adventure this summer aboard Waterways Experiences’ boats, Close Shave and Sheldrake II. They had a whirlwind of fun, made new friends and learned new skills. All this was made possible with the help of 18 fantastic volunteers both experienced crew from Waterways Experiences and some younger volunteers.
Three trips went out for a week in sequence during August. The first boat took four boys and two girls and went north towards Milton Keynes. One of the boys, Jordan, uses a wheelchair but was able to participate in almost everything they did. One problem with the wheelchair was that after tickets had been bought to catch the train from Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes, the Leader was told that the lift wasn’t working so it wouldn’t be possible to get Jordan to the train. A taxi was duly hailed and Jordan was able to join the others in MK. The second trip had three boys and two girls and the third trip had six young people aboard – all boys. Both the second and third trips went south towards Camden Market – the highlight of the trip for some of the young people. Quite a few of the young people had been on Enable trips before but there were several who were new to the narrowboat experience. Quite a number had not spent more than a couple of nights away from home before.
So what did they do exactly? Well of course they did what you do on narrowboats: open locks, steer the boat, chat to people on the towpath … a bit of fishing. But that wasn’t all. When moored up they helped prepare the meals, played games, and in the evenings some singing and dancing. Great favourites were making pizzas and baking cakes, And then there were places to visit and things to do along the way: Cassiobury Rare Breeds Farm (almost a small zoo!), playing games on Cowley Park (amongst others), the swings and roundabouts at Horsenden Hill (and elsewhere), canoeing with Colne Valley Special Sailors at Rickmansworth Aquadrome, going to the cinema, eating out, playing football and frisbee, lots of bubbles, swimming (at Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre, not in the canal!) and walking around Camden market.
Did you enjoy yourself? They were all asked on return. The answer was a resounding YES.
“I loved every minute I was on the barge” said Liam,
“I loved it and it’s made me more confident” said Hannah,
“I loved making new friends and having fun” said Ryan.