More than 80 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities from eight schools across the county, including Ash Lea school in Cotgrave, have received awards to mark their achievement of being an independent traveller.
Nottinghamshire County Council’s independent traveller training scheme helps boost young people’s confidence and self-esteem by preparing pupils with special needs with the skills they need to make their own way from home to school or college each day.
This includes using public transport, identifying hazards and using landmarks to make the journey safely.
Freya and Alfy, both 14 years old, picked up awards for being ‘independent travellers’ and were proud to show off their certificates after the ceremony held at County Hall, West Bridgford.
The ceremony was also attended by school support staff, parents and representatives from local transport operators who help support the scheme.
When asked what they like most about the programme, Alfy said: “It makes us more independent.
“Someone used to have to come with me wherever I went but now I really enjoy going on nature walks on my own or into town to meet my friends.”
Freya said: “The scheme has boosted my confidence a lot. I used to be afraid to go out on my own but last week.
“I walked from school to a nearby tea room for cake and a milkshake. I would never have been able to do that before completing the programme.”
Freya’s mum added: “The programme has really helped Freya progress in her independence and confidence.
“It has given her the tools to be able to see and explore the world through her own eyes and experiences rather than depend upon an adult to do this for her. It is a life-long skill that she can use to improve her quality of life.” This experience and the skills of being a more independent traveller is helping other young people to further education, work experience and increasing their chance of employment.
Pupils aged 16 and over who graduate from the scheme celebrate their new independence with a trip to Skegness, travelling on their own by bus to meet the course tutors there and spend a week in the Butlin’s seaside resort.Vice chairman of the council’s Communities and Place Committee, Phil Rostance, who presented the awards said: “This scheme is a fantastic way to support young people to be more independent.
“Most of us will remember the sense of freedom of travelling to school on your own. It can be a real milestone of independence.
“The scheme not only helps more young people to feel ready to travel on their own, which brings many benefits for them in the long-term, it also reduces reliance on alternative forms of transport which can often be expensive.”