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College marks neurodiversity in huge colour walk

By Gary Lawrence

HUNDREDS of staff and students from St Vincent College took to the streets of Gosport earlier this week as part of a sponsored Colour Walk throughout the borough; which sought to boost awareness of Neurodiversity Celebration Week (March 18-24) and raise funds for the local Marvels & Meltdowns charity.

This walk took place on Wednesday morning (March 20) with approximately 200 people leaving the college, all wearing bright and colourful clothing. They proceeded to travel over the Millennium Bridge and Gosport Town Centre before returning back to the Mill Lane campus for 12:30pm.

Participants were successful in raising £300 for Marvels & Meltdowns, who support parents of children diagnosed with ADHD and Autism from their base at the Phoenix Centre. But just as importantly they celebrated the skills of neuro-diverse people and challenged peoples’ stereotypes of these differences.

They were treated to lovely spring weather throughout their walk with temperatures above fifteen degree temperatures on the day; which provided a perfect backdrop to photographs and a positive atmosphere from everybody involved. The group also got attention from passers-by, including a member of the Globe team.

Vice Principal Alison Kent said: “The whole thing was just joyful, we couldn’t have asked for better weather and everyone enjoyed being out and seeing parts of Gosport some of the walkers had never seen before, We had lots of people waving and chatting to us, coming out of their houses, and beeping their horns. It was all wonderful.”

She continued to explain that the students created the idea to support Neurodiversity Celebration Week, adding: “We have a lot of people with a whole range of neurodiversity, including autism, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and dyscalculia. We wanted to celebrate their superpowers – we have some people with dyscalculia who are brilliant with words and some with dyslexia who are really creative. The walk was about celebrating them very publicly.”

The college runs regular park walks for students as an enrichment activity and the Vice President said adding colour seemed a logical expansion, as was inviting others. Mrs Kent added: “Colour is associated with neurodiversity so making a park walk into a colour walk worked really well.”

“We had wonderful support from our park walk students and some of our Uniformed Public Services students who acted as marshals. In all more than 20 staff and students gave up their time, for which we are very grateful. We also had great support from Gosport Police as well who joined us on the walk.”

Principal Andy Grant started the walk and was impressed by the number of students who dressed up and carried placards with positive messages about neurodiversity. He said “It was a fantastic demonstration of how we value every student and member of staff.”

“The students were a credit to the college and gave a very positive impression of what we do here. It was particularly important to me that we did this in such a visible way because we feel we are very much a part of the community here in Gosport. We touch a great many lives through the college, our adult education, and our School of Personalised Learning. It was a wonderful experience to be out there shouting about what we do.”

Readers can still donate to the cause by visiting the group’s designated JustGiving page available here, which is still live at the time of publication. More information about Marvels and Meltdowns can be seen online, whilst a background to St Vincent College and their wide range of courses is accessible via this weblink

PICTURED BY ST VINCENT COLLEGEParticipants prepare to start ‘Colour Walk’ outside the college entrance on Wednesday morning (March 20).