When Debbie Colledge from Kirkby heard that her 15-year-old son, Sam, would be taking a bus trip with school she was a bundle of nerves.
Any parent might feel a little nervous, but for Debbie it was a really big day as Sam, who has Down’s syndrome, had never been on public transport before.
Debbie said: “Sam doesn’t like new things or strangers and the thought of taking him on the bus or a tram has always filled me with dread, so I’ve just avoided it. But Sam’s school is teaching his class how to use public transport and travel safely, and a big part of this is actually going out on the bus.”
Sam’s interests are much like any other 15 year old. He enjoys watching music videos and loves sport, especially football. Although Debbie says the team he supports changes on a daily basis!
Debbie added: “Sam has an amazing sense of humour and is a real charmer, but having Down’s syndrome means he has learning disabilities and will often need additional support to understand new information or learn new skills.
“The travel training has taught Sam so much and given him a huge amount of confidence. He’s a lot more streetwise now and can walk to the park with his 12-year-old brother, Daniel, which puts less pressure on him to look out for Sam. We’ve been on the bus together and Sam has even told me off for crossing the road before the green man appears!”
Notts County Council is delivering the travel training in seven different schools and colleges, including Sam’s school, Bracken Hill, in Kirkby. Over 170 pupils with special educational needs and disabilities are already signed up to the project which will help them make their own way from home to school each day.
A council spokesman said: “Debbie has seen first-hand how the training has encouraged Sam’s independence to soar and given him the skills to feel comfortable to go to the shops or take a short bus ride. These life skills will help Sam to grow in confidence and Debbie’s keen for him to take this confidence and independence with him into other areas of his life.”
The scheme aims to save the council £500,000 over the coming three years as the children use public transport rather than relying on transport provided by the council.