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Gina Davies Autism Centre

For families with young children on the autistic spectrum the long summer holiday period can feel daunting and exhausting

A volunteering project offering support to families of young children with autistic spectrum disorders

Acclaimed autism practitioner, Gina Davies, will be walking the walk and talking the talk as she travels on foot from Wells to Canterbury, and along the route will volunteer her services to families of young children with autistic spectrum disorders. Starting out in Somerset on the 21st July, Gina will walk old pilgrim routes and footpaths and offer free consultations to parents and families in exchange for a meal or packed lunch, concluding her journey in Kent on the 14th of August.

Gina is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist who turned her passion for communication development into practical and joyful intervention strategies for parents and professionals dealing with autism. She has worked with hundreds of autistic children in schools, nurseries and residential settings, and directly with parents, carers and families.

“For most people the summer holidays mean more down time, and for people who work in schools it means time away from the classrooms, time to relax and enjoy the break,” says Gina. “For families with young children on the autistic spectrum the long summer holiday period can feel daunting and exhausting - and support can be harder to access because other people are often away themselves.

“I hope that by offering direct support to families in their homes along the route, my little bit of volunteering might go some way to help. The consultations can only be one-offs but offer the chance to think through practical daily challenges of things like sleeping, eating, behaviour, and a host of practical strategies for getting by. I am also more than happy to offer talks to groups of parents and carers if this is of use and on the understanding that they would not be charged for them.”

In the past Gina has volunteered in South America and Romania, but has long held a desire to offer support closer to home. “The time seems right as we have endured a long, wet and windy winter and services for families are getting squeezed as budgets get smaller,” says Gina.

The concept of walk the walk and talk the talk arose out of several recent experiences by Gina: Walking the pilgrimage route to Camino de Santiago de Compostela; her reading of the book, Walking Home, by Simon Armitage, where poetry readings were exchanged for overnight accommodation; and a talk given by adventurer Dave Cornthwaite who urged the audience to try an adventure every day and, ‘say yes more’ to ideas about doing things differently.

Gina’s route from Wells will take her to Glastonbury, then Salisbury (following the Monarchs Way), Winchester (following The Clarendon Way) Eastbourne (following the South Downs Way), Hastings, Rye, Lympne and finally Canturbury via the North Downs way route. Along the way she will be staying at local B&Bs and hostels.

The volunteering is not designed to take the place of existing services, but rather the offer of experience gained over the years to families who might like to try. The project is not designed to be a marketing strategy, nor a fund raising event, and no sponsorship is involved. It is just a small try at getting out there to share skills.

If you are interested in this project and would like to find out more or book an appointment please get in touch by email for more details of the route and dates.

Email: contact@ginadavies.co.uk

Media contact:

Glen Goldsmith

Email: glen@2thefore.co.uk

Tel: 01483 811234 / 07812 766338

Editors notes

A little more information about walk the walk and talk the talk from Gina

Ideally families will live close to the route, e.g. 1 mile, otherwise could they pick me up from the route and drop me back on the route after the appointment. Appointments can be morning, afternoon or evening - the only limiting factor is that I must be able to get to my accommodation each night.

We will confirm days and appointments once we have worked our way through the applications but priority will go to families on a first come first served basis.

Appointments are very informal so there is no need for complicated preparation or anxiety. I will be travelling very lightly with just a rucksack, so no need to worry about accommodating large suitcases! With regret I must be clear that I cannot write/supply reports. The emphasis is on the practical and do-able with the resources that families have at home.

I will have a mobile phone with me so access to some recharging power points would be great and I will be writing a blog daily so ideas and experiences can be shared as widely as possible but no material, names etc will be posted without full permission of the families.

This is the first time I have done anything like this so this year I am focussing on pre-school and primary aged children.

Alternatively if you would like to walk some of the way with me and chat as we go your company would be most welcome.

About Gina Davies

Gina is a qualified Speech and Language Therapist who turned her passion for communication development into practical and joyful intervention strategies for parents and professionals dealing with autism. She has worked with hundreds of autistic children in schools, nurseries and residential settings, and directly with parents, carers and families.

As well as being an accomplished conference speaker and highly acclaimed practitioner in autism, Gina has established parent groups, social skills groups, language and communication services. She has set up and run programmes in specialist and mainstream schools, working closely within the educational framework.

This year, Gina was a highly commended finalist for The National Learning Disability Awards 2014 (Best Trainer) and recently featured in The Independent on Sunday’s Happy List 2014 – a list of individuals who make life happier for others

Gina lives in Surrey and remains very much hands-on with children, parents and professionals, travelling extensively in the UK and internationally.

www.ginadavies.co.uk

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