From February to May 2019, two students from the Brussels University ULB (Université Libre de Bruxelles), Aoyun Zhan and Eva Franzoso, carried out a research on tourism for people with Down Syndrome, in collaboration with Thomas and Valentina of the Destination Everywhere team.
The research project was called #NothingDownAboutIt, from a popular Instagram hashtag in the Down Syndrome community. The question was: do people with DS have “special needs” when going on a holiday? Here are some of the tours and activities they found. Enjoy the read!
Horse riding adventures for all!
If you have never considered hippotherapy, you should. It is an incredible experience for the whole family, if you love animals you will love spending some time amongst horses and in the open air, while trained professionals specialized in making people of all ages with learning disabilities ride a horse, will get you and your kids riding (and doing all the necessary “horse maintenance” too). There are various places you can do this around the world, we would like to mention in Belgium the “Ferme Équestre” of Louvain-La-Neuve in the South of the country. Ideal for children and teenagers who speak French, as the team is French speaking.
If you are going to (or if you live in) Spain, then the renowned “Fundacio terapia a cavall” near Barcelona is the place to go. The Fundació Teràpia a Cavall is a rehabilitation center that offers physiotherapy sessions to children with special needs between the ages of 18 months to 12 years old. They have fun rehabilitation activities for children with learning disabilities, Down Syndrome and they also carry out physiotherapy sessions with horses for children with cerebral palsy, stroke, head trauma or psychomotor disabilities. (Website is in Spanish but the team is multi-lingual).
USA : New Directions Travel
On the Californian coast, the New Directions Travel association has been offering for 35 years wonderful trips that are both fun and educational. The perfect occasions to learn, make new friends, discover hidden talents, or achieve a personal breakthrough. New Directions offers adults with learning disabilities everything from baseball games to Christmas in Hawaii, from Disneyland to skiing, and for the wild ones casino tours in Las Vegas.
Travel the world with the Big Bear
The French travel company ‘La Grande Ourse’ (the big female bear) offers to adults with learning disabilities the opportunity to create a tailor-made trip, so that the experience is as full and personalised as possible, or go with a group tour. They organise a wide number of group tours and activities worldwide, each time with trained instructors and trained accompanying persons that go with the group and have a long time experience, so you know the holiday will be fun and safe!
Get sporty with DSActive
In the UK, DSActive is the sporting side of the association DSA (Down’s Syndrome Association). Their goal is to provide as many opportunities as possible for people with DS to lead active and healthy lives. They started in 2006 with football session with Fulham FC Foundation and have grown since into a national program offering many different sports such as Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, snooker, sailing, athletics, etc. DSActive offers expert training to coaches, runs festivals to celebrate the achievements of their athletes and support people with DS to achieve coaching qualifications.
Autism on the seas
Do you want to go on a cruise? No problem, with the company Autism on the seas (AotS), based in the USA. It is a cruise agency that organizes cruises for families with special needs, both families and individuals with Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and all cognitive, intellectual and learning disabilities, as well as (but not limited to) cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. They offer departures from the USA to the Bahamas, Mexico, Jamaica, Alaska, France, Italy and much much more.
This article was researched by Aoyun Zhan and Eva Franzoso of the University of Brussels for the project on tourism for people with Down Syndome #NothingDownAboutIt. Eleonora Censorii updated and revised the article with the help of Stanilas Nozal, intern at Destination Everywhere. If you want to know more about the project you can read our article about it.
All the photos come from the websites and Facebook pages of the organisations mentioned in the article: if you wish to remove them you can contact us at info @ destinationeverywhere. eu.