What we do
Each October, Dreamflight takes 192 children with a serious illness or disability to Florida for a 10 day holiday of a lifetime. The children are all nominated by the medical professional responsible for their care. Dreamflight charters a British Airways plane for the trip and have done so annually since 1987. To date Dreamflight has supported more than 6,400 children in enjoying an often life-changing experience in Orlando.
The problem we faced during Covid-19
Due to the pandemic, Dreamflight has a backlog of child nominations which includes a number of young people who will now be ineligible for the trip to Orlando. This is due to a variety of reasons, including many who are now above our upper age/weight limit; are too poorly to wait for our main trip to Florida; or have physical or sensory needs that mean that a 10-day trip abroad would not be suitable.
How we helped to solve it
Whilst the Charity was unable to fly due to Covid-19, we took a group of children in the above category to a specialist UK-based activity centre in Exmoor (The Calvert Trust) in November 2021. The Calvert Trust, Exmoor, is a fully accessible adventure centre meaning that regardless of age and ability, guests can visit with carers to experience exciting and challenging activities, led by qualified instructors. The visit was a huge success and we are hoping to make this an annual trip each spring, alongside our usual Florida trip each autumn.
The impact on the children
The children nominated for Dreamflight have faced extreme difficulty due to their medical conditions or disability. Often, they have missed large portions of school life (and social life) due to stays in hospital or because their condition or disability means they are not eligible to take part in activities, school trips or holidays. This has a huge bearing on their ability to make friends and – as many have never been away from their families – the opportunity for them to become independent and confident young people is limited. This can have a profound effect on their future lives and what they are able to go on and achieve.
Our future plans
Combining the skills of the medically qualified Dreamflight volunteers with the specialist equipment and staff at The Calvert Trust means that we can provide a tailor-made opportunity for children/young people who would otherwise miss out.
During the visit, the children will have the opportunity to take part in a range of activities and therapy sessions, led by qualified instructors and physiotherapists. In addition to being able to try activities such as climbing and accessible cycling, the children will take part in specialist therapy and play sessions in three categories: horse-riding, water therapy and sensory sessions.
The Calvert Trust is a British Horse Society (BHS) approved facility and in 2022 the stables became a Changing Lives Through Horses (CLTH) Centre, ideal for a visit by Dreamflight children with complex needs.
The charity will bring the same Dreamflight ‘magic’ and positive can-do attitude into the lives of a new set of children who would not have the opportunity to experience the full Dreamflight Florida trip.