Words by Amillah Javed
|L to R James Scanlon Naeem Ul Hassan Suzanne Clapson and Aaron O’Connor
On Thursday, 1st August, students along with their parents gathered together from schools across Manchester in order to celebrate their tremendous efforts and achievements in completing an independent travel training programme. The event was hosted and funded by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Collaborative Partnerships Office.
The Lord Mayor of Manchester, Naeem Ul Hassan said:
“It’s great to see young people learning and travelling independently because now they can socialise and enjoy their life more. It’s good to know that the students will have more control over their lives and will be able to manage their travel routes themselves.”
The Manchester Travel Training Partnership (MTTP) teaches young people with additional needs how to use and travel on public transport. These students ultimately give up using minibuses and taxis which usually drop them to school or college and pick them up. Thus, they learn how to get out and about on their own.
Manager of Manchester’s Travel Training Partnership, Kevin Northrop hosted the event and said,
“The event today was the celebration of all the achievements of young people. I love the fact that one student said that he could travel to school just like all his friends. I think, one of the most important aspects this training provides is allowing the students to not feel separate or different in any way. Therefore, their disability shouldn’t stop them entering into a mainstream society.”
An interesting quote Kevin included in his speech by Neale Donald Walsch,
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” linked amazingly well with the theme of the celebration event. He said, “When you get to pushing yourself out of the point where you don’t feel comfortable, life actually begins.” Consequently, this event celebrated the independency of all the students who have worked hard and have managed to come out of their comfort zone in order to travel solely to different places.
The Manchester Travel Training Partnership hopes to open up the world for these aspiring students and allow them to travel further and further to places where students thought they could never go before.
Strategic Leader for Special Educational Needs, Ann Thornber said: “We started off very small and we have gradually expanded. One of the first things we had to do was build up the trust, not only with the families but, with schools and organisations as well.”
She also added, “We’ve been very fortunate that we have worked a lot with Greater Manchester transport, with all the bus companies and they have been very supportive in what we want to do. It’s very important that we work with different agencies because without their support we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we have so far.” Ann Thornber is also very proud of Kevin Northrop and the work he does with his travel trainers. She is very grateful for them and what they do.
Year 9 student, Jamal who is currently studying at Loreto High School feels more independent now and capable of using public transport on his own. His mother said, “I’m really happy now that Jamal had the chance of taking part in the Travel Training.” Although at first she was feeling sceptical and thought her son was being targeted, she has seen that this has not only benefited him but has been a benefit to her. She further added, “I’m so glad that he has Travel Trained.”
Well done and a great big congratulations to all the students who have worked hard to achieve their certificates. Also, all the best for The Manchester Travel Training Partnership for the future!