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The first young people in the UK have completed The OPT Award at Langside School in Poole, run by Diverse Abilities.

The OPT Award is a new scheme which has been devised for young people with learning disabilities aged 16 and over in their transition into adulthood. It gives students the opportunity to complete three strands: The Helping Award, The Personal, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award, and The 48 Hour Challenge. Students focus on one strand each term with activities such as caring for animals, gardening, hydrotherapy, yoga and more. The challenge element of the award is to take on two days of activities these young people would not normally experience, and an overnight stay away from home.

The three students who completed The OPT Award are Angel, Amelia and Alicia who are all in Options Class at Langside School. Across the course of the award they have prepared a three- course meal, spent the day at a high ropes course and enjoyed a sensory walk through the gardens and along the beach. The 48-hour challenge involved a sleep-over at the school where the girls enjoyed each other’s company, films and a pampering session.

Lisa Noel, Amelia’s Mum commented:

“My daughter, Amelia, has been very lucky to be part of the first OPT Awards designed by Langside School. Recently, we watched the 3 girls, who are all best friends, collect their certificates from the Governor of the school. This was a very proud and special moment as they were all the first youngsters to have completed the new OPT Award. They had previously obtained their bronze in Duke of Edinburgh, but this award was much more tailored to youngsters with PMLD, like Amelia. It’s been lovely hearing about what different activities they had planned and then seeing the photos. She had the opportunity to do a 48 hours challenge, where they had a new experience at a local outdoor activity centre, being hoisted up into the trees and swinging through the trees, then back to school for a sleep over; not that a lot of sleeping was had that night at school. She now has badges we can sew onto her towel to remind us of all the activities and her certificates are up in her bedroom for everyone to see her achievements of obtaining The OPT Award.”

“As she’s very shortly transitioning into adult services, leaving Langside school The OPT Award has given her the opportunity to get out into the community visiting places she wouldn’t normally have access to. It’s helped her get ready for change. Thank you for everyone who has made The OPT Award possible; I recommend to any family.”

Find out more about The OPT Award and how your school can get involved at

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