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Guided walks for children with special educational needs and disabilities

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This project should be managed by an organisation that has experience of working with SEND children.

The project organises nature walks to improve the wellbeing of children with special education needs and disabilities (SEND) and their parents by engaging them with walking and outdoor exploration. The walks can take place in any area of London with open green spaces such as Epping Forest, Walthamstow Marshes, Richmond Park, Selsdon Wood, or any local park.

The walks provide a form of relaxation and remedy for SEND children who may be suffering from stress, anxiety and isolation, while also encouraging physical activity and social interaction. The project builds participants’ confidence around walking in nature and demonstrates that it can be a cost effective, fun and healthy way to spend time. 

The walks should be led by a qualified health walk leader and supervised by a specialist who works with SEND children. The walk leader ensures the walks are engaging and educational and can provide maps and worksheets for the children to interact with. The SEND specialist ensures the children have the appropriate level of care and safeguarding for their needs.

The number of walks held each year can vary depending on demand and the availability of resources/volunteers. Ideally the walks would be every week, or every 2-3 weeks, throughout the Spring, Summer and Autumn months. This frequency allows users to participate in regular walks and events and enables them to make meaningful and long-lasting connections with similarly minded people.


Target audience and engagement


  • The key target audience is children with special educational needs and disabilities, and their families
  • Consider promoting your activity through local schools, community centres, hospitals and charities, or your local supermarket – many of these places have notice boards 
  • Social media, with specific targeting to potential user groups, such as parents/carers groups of children with special educational needs, can be an effective way to promote your activities




  • Small-medium (30 - 50 participants per year) *You will need to have the requisite number of adults to supervise as advised by your SEND specialist
  • Geographically - anywhere there are safe, green, open spaces, footpaths and walkways. Example spaces include parks and woodlands or estates and managed gardens


Equipment needed


  • Walk resources, which could include maps where the walks take place, and/or work sheets and activity packs for games that could take place during the walk, such as plants/animal spotting, small games to play, or other activities/games)
  • Water bottles
  • Waterproof jackets (if needed)
  • Walking shoes (if needed)
  • Hi-Vis vests


Resources needed


-Project Leader

  • The project lead or sessions leader should have the requisite level of DBS, understand health and safety needs and preferably be first aid trained (if not another person going on the walks should be first aid trained). They should also have the required training, understanding and experience of working with young people and families with special educational needs
  • Oversee the project, ensure the participants feel safe and enjoy their experience
  • Track equipment and ensure that it is returned
  • Ensure all funding criteria and documentation is met (if required)
  • Run risk assessment for safeguarding, injuries and identify any other concerns which may affect project delivery (a Risk Assessment template is available on the Resources page here)
  • Ensure health & safety, and safeguarding policies are in place, robust, and adhered to
  • Gather feedback from participants and participants’ parents/carers, to plan for future sessions and projects

-Volunteers/Project Officers

  • Help answer queries
  • Contribute to overseeing activity and resolve any issues
  • Run/support the scheduled walks

-Storage Space

  • You will need somewhere to store equipment. This could be at a community centre, in an existing office, or perhaps another local business that has a storage facility


  • Flyers and posters for publicity of the sessions

-Packed lunches or refreshments

  • Juice/snacks and coffee/tea at sessions, this will lighten the mood and offers an incentive for people/families to come. This may include stopping off for refreshments at a café along the walking route, or bringing your own as part of a picnic event built into the walk plan


Estimated project costs


  • Packed lunches for participants   £480
  • Admin, planning and management time   £900
  • Volunteer travel expenses   £120
  • Walking guide   £800
  • Activity packs, including printing costs   £150
  • Waterproof jackets   £975
  • Walking shoes   £975
  • Hi-Vis jackets   £200
  • Hygiene and cleaning product   £80
  • DBS checks (if needed)   £150
  • Public liability insurance (if needed)     £170


Top tips/key learnings


  • Ensure the project lead will be present to make sure the event goes according to plan and risk assessments are robust, up-to-date and are adhered to; a risk assessment can be found in our awarded projects guide. Volunteers can assist with ensuring participant safety and encouraging interaction with the participants
  • Each event can be attended by up to 20 children, this will ensure that there is a quality amount of contact time between volunteers and participants, and allows the sessions to have flexibility to account for unforeseen changes
  • Walks and activities should be planned to adapt to participant needs, offering options for less active participants or those who are initially harder to engage
  • Try to select routes that have excellent disabled access and good paths. Check the Sensory Trust or Accessible Countryside websites for details
  • Take advantage of the training programme that is offered by Walking and Cycling Grants London


Maximising local contacts


  • Utilise networks to recruit participants, or even get in-kind support (volunteer organisations and local centres, community centres etc.)
  • Engage with your local council health and social care team. They may be able to lend you equipment, help market the project, help secure a local space for meetings, or offer other help, advice, support or learning  


This project idea was provided by the Mada Devi Centre - Twitter - Facebook - Instagram - YouTube