Inside Edge: five ways travel can improve young people’s transition to independence
Edge Adventures enables young people aged 18 to 35 with autism and learning disabilities to travel and try new experiences accompanied by skilled support staff. 2022 will see the launch of its first adventure programme overseas, with surfing, safaris and Tokyo Disney on offer. Edge director Sam Roberts looks at what we gain from travel – and why it’s more important now than ever
Photo: Edge Adventures
There are many reasons why travelling at a young age is desirable and why you should do it. If you are an autistic or learning-disabled young person, we think you should do it even more. Edge’s philosophy is driven by a person centred approach and an inherent conviction there should be no limits to what young people can achieve.
Here are our 5 reasons why travelling can not only be an adventure but a life-defining experience that will enhance your transition into adulthood.
‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’.
Never has this been more important.
We know life can be difficult and overwhelming, we also know when you are a young disabled person it can be even more challenging. After Covid-19, folk are nervous. The pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated, anxious and managing a wealth of mental health issues.
Where did our hard-won confidence go?
Getting it back is going to take resolve and a bit of a jump into the unknown. Our autistic young people hate surprises, so how do we do this?
We asked them.
A lot said they felt overwhelmed by the risks of becoming ill, unsure of what to do in different places and frightened of travelling alone.
Edge is first and foremost all about support. We understand the issues and we can and do help build confidence so travelling can be a positive experience. Our young people told us they want to have independent adventures, experience other cultures, try new activities – and mostly have a brilliant time with other like-minded young folk.
So – feel the fear and do it anyway, your confidence will soar.
2. Life Skills
In the past 18 months we have lived day to day, unable to plan, unable to set anything but the smallest of goals, stuck in our pyjamas, eating pizza. Some of us, me included, forgot fitness, motivation, and life aims were actually a thing. We have all been in survival mode; but remember when we all had life skills? Some of us were well on our way to developing quite good ones and then, before we knew it, we even forgot how to speak to the dog.
So, getting back on track is important.
Human interaction, organisation, making plans and having a future are all things we should be getting on with now. Travelling has always inspired ‘bucket lists’ and never has there been a better time to write yours. Experiential travelling, particularly to a foreign country, can help you re-evaluate and reinvent your life, opening your mind and body to different ideas, philosophies, and new futures.
If you are a young disabled person, looking to lead an independent life, then right now you need to feel some success. You need to experiment to succeed. You will be glad you did.
3. Social Skills
Do you remember how to start a conversation? How to tell someone their bum does look big in that dress? How to go on a date?
We all came blinking out of lockdown like poorly socialised underground mole people. If you are also autistic, and communication is difficult for lots of other reasons, then you may need the practice.
Having like-minded folk to talk to is one of the main reasons young people enjoy travelling with us. They hang out with their peer group, folk who experience many of the same challenges. Positive peer relationships are integral to a good and well developed sense of self. Travelling together gives us bonds that can last a lifetime.
But there’s more.
When you travel, you meet people of diverse backgrounds and experiences and every single one has the potential to play an important role in your life, whether that is as a new best friend or your soul mate.
Pushing your feet into the dirt to feel the earth, dipping your toes in the ocean to feel the chill, and experiencing the world.
Push the boundaries, reinvent yourself, speak to foreign people, stay dynamic. Understanding your own emotions, managing your own stressors, and looking after yourself is all a huge part of your own education.
How do I keep myself safe when I travel?
Learning about the world outside of your own bubble makes you grow up, despite yourself. Learning even a few simple phrases in a new language is exciting, and opens communication.
We think travel improves self-awareness and resilience through interaction and experience.
Laughter is strong medicine. It draws people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. Laughter strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress.
Travel makes your eyes light up – it’s true! Travelling makes you happier because it makes you grow.
The best part of our adventures, ask any of our young people, is the banter!
Your mind is stretched, your perceptions are challenged, and your perspectives change for the better. What better way to shape your life than by experiencing what the world has to offer? Once you go on your first trip, you’ll be hooked, and you’ll be better for it.
Edge Adventures enables the 18–35-year-old autistic and learning-disabled community to travel without limits and make new friends. We started with Scottish based adventures: white water rafting in Perthshire, bushcraft at Duncarron, quad biking, mountain climbing and archery in Aviemore. But lots of young people told us they wanted to go further, so in 2022 we are launching our international adventures – surfing in Fuerteventura, safaris in Africa and Disneyland in Tokyo. Autistic and learning disabled young folk can travel with their peers and highly skilled support staff to make new friends in amazing places. Time to pack your bags!
For more information on adventures home and abroad, visit www.edgeadventures.uk or call 0131 285 8930.