Contacts and information

MANY of these activities will be fully booked for this summer (but it is worth checking) so teachers and parents need to be looking long-term to make sure that the special needs of their children are met.

Information about a wide range of trips and holidays: Local authority leisure services and children's services departments ought to be able to supply information about playschemes. Contact the local council's information line.

Contact a Family will put parents in touch with other families whose child or teenager has the same special need. The charity can also give information about support groups and activities. Tel: 020 7383 3555 or e-mail: Holiday Care offers information about trips, courses and holidays for people with special needs. The staff can offer advice for adults as well as children and the database organise the information by activity, by region or by need. Tel: 01293 774535 or visit the website: Sport: Sports events for disabled young people are co-ordinated by Disability Sport England, formerly the British Sports Association for the Disabled. DSE organise a mini games in May and regional events which lead on to the Disability Sport Junior Athletics Championships held in Blackpool's Stanley Park in July ( and July 1 and 2 this year). Successful performers at this event often go on to represent England or Great Britain in international competition.

Disability Sport England, tel: 020 7490 4919.

Adventurous activities: The Island Trust works with a number of organisations to offer sailing experiences to children with special needs. Costs are met by the trust, which then arranges sailing with reputable training organisations. The trust is a small organisation that prefers to handle applications by letter. Contact: Richard Lloyd, 10 Manston Terrace, Exeter, Devon EX2 4NP.

Bowles Outdoor Centre is an outdoor and adventurous activities centre in Kent with wide experience in catering for special needs groups. Activities range from wheelchair abseiling to ski-ing and canoeing. Tel: 01892 665665.

The Calvert Trust ofers similar facilities and acitivies. Keswick, tel: 017687 72254 or Barnstable, tel: 01598 763221.

Both are inspected by the Adventurous Activities Licensing Authority.

Specialist providers: This year, Friends of Young Deaf People will run activity weeks in Bude and the Lake District for young deaf people aged from seven to 17-years-old. Costs are pound;230 full board. Tel: 02476 641017.

MENCAP holiday schemes, tel: 020 7454 0454.

PEAK (Project Eczema Asthma Kids) offers week long activities to eczema and asthma sufferers aged between six and 17-years-old. Approximately 200 children are offered holidays each year, often through recommendations by medical staff. Prices are subsidised with a minimum cost of pound;90. Tel: 0131 446 9788.

Commercial providers: Access and understanding are too often absent in the commercial arena but some operators have an excellent record in offering an inclusive package to families.

Alton Towers theme park produces a guide for disabled visitors that details which rides are restricted and which allow special arrangements. Tel: 01538 703344.

Legoland, for children aged from two to 12-years-old. The theme park has produced a special needs guide that gives an overview of the facilities and discusses access issues. To request a copy, tel: 08705 040404.

Centre Parcs offers a special needs friendly service and its special needs hotline provides information for those who are planning a holiday at one of their sites. Tel: 01623 872998.

Anglers Paradise offers the "opportunity for families or small groups to experience a luxury holiday". Based in 170 acres of Devon countryside, the site includes 12 lakes and extensive woodland, all with excellent access over concrete paths. The farm has donkeys, goats, emus. Facilities include a heated indoor pool, saunas and a jacuzzi. The farm is not a nursing home and takes able-bodied clients as well, but facilities are ideal for families whose children have special needs. And, despite the luxury tag, it is not expensive - a group of seven in high season would pay pound;880. Tel: 01409 221559.

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