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College prepares for neurodiversity colour walk

By Gary Lawrence

MORE THAN six hundred students and staff from St Vincent College will undertake a special walk in Gosport later this month, where they will dress up in dazzling colours to mark Neurodiversity Celebration Week and raise money for charity.

The college’s first ever ‘Colour Walk’ will take place on March 20 (Wednesday) and participants are scheduled to leave the Mill Road campus at 11:20am. It will then follow a route around Forton Road, Mill Road, St Vincent Road, Grove Road Recreation Ground (public footpaths), Priddy’s Hard, Heritage Way, Millennium Bridge and Weevil Lane before returning back to campus.

Participants are encouraged to wear colourful and eye catching clothes / make up for this walk; whilst many will be carrying placards and posters with positive messages about neurodiversity. The event is being held as part of ‘Neurodiversity Celebration Week’ which runs from March 18-24 and is a worldwide initiative across all levels of education (schools, colleges, and universities).

This initiative hopes to challenge general stereotypes and misconceptions about those with neurological differences in a bid to change how they are perceived in society. Neurodiversity celebrates the natural variations in how people think and learn alongside promoting acceptance of diverse minds; including those with autism, ADHD, and other neurological differences.

Principal Andy Grant said he was delighted the college is taking part in this event; particularly as the ‘School of Personalised Learning’ has been recently rated “outstanding” by Ofsted inspectors for its work with higher needs students. He said: “It is going to be a very public statement about the value we place on every student, no matter what their background or ability, here at St Vincent. I’m looking forward to what will be a spectacular occasion, both visually and emotionally, and I’m urging everyone in Gosport to support.”

He continued to state that this walk would celebrate inclusivity as well as Park-Walking, which is one of the college’s student enrichment activities and has mental health / exercise benefits. The Principal said: “Staff and students do a walk each week around Gosport, which helps form relationships, is beneficial to good health / mental health and getting to know our neighbourhood. It’s also a very inclusive activity and we want to highlight that.”

Meltdowns and Marvels was founded in 2014 as a support group for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD / autism. They hold weekly meetings and play sessions from their base at The Phoenix Centre; as well as providing one-to-one support and a Facebook support / information group.

Gosport Borough Council have given permission for this event to take place with marshals and first aid available throughout the route. Students will be collected donations on their walk and are being sponsored; each one stopping at ‘colour stations’ to collect stamps at regular intervals to prove they have completed their challenge. It is believed the walk will last for around an hour in total and will finish at the campus at approximately 12:30pm.

Readers can donate to the cause by visiting the group’s designated JustGiving page available here, which has raised over ten percent of the £500 so far. 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 COLLEGE: Staff and students with placards / posters they’ll be carrying for the colour walk later this month (March 20).