Useful Vision’s 2022 in review!
As we enter 2023, here at Useful Vision HQ we’d like to reflect on last year’s amazing activities and the incredible memories we created in 2022.
Last January began with a splash at our annual swimming party in Stockton. Families had exclusive use of the pool, followed by delicious fish and chips.
In February, Martin from Animate2Educate returned with a hands-on robot programming workshop. A parent told us, “The session was fantastic. Martin was so kind, knowledgeable and his teaching techniques were engaging and fun. The Useful Vision staff and volunteers were amazing as always – kind, caring and attentive.”
February also featured a drama workshop, trampolining with Velocity Sports, a visit to the Alan Shearer centre, an active morning with the Foundation of Light, and we ended the month with a much-loved trip to Hall Hill Farm!
The first event of the spring was a day trip to Washington Wetlands, here we went pond dipping and had an interactive session with the park ranger, we got to handle feathers, skulls, snake skins, and more!
April and May were jam-packed with activities including our first event at Newcastle Climbing Centre and a day of riding and stable management at Three Lane Ends Farm. We got crafty at the Art Room, enjoyed a family Bowling day, made wooden bird boxes at The Sill, visited the Discovery Museum and Segedunum, and we finished with an exhilarating driving experience with Speed of Sight! We launched our exclusive toddler programme in the spring, holding our first sensory session for our 0–5-year-olds with Katie from Splat Messy Play.
June meant it was time for our annual Useful Vision Family Fun Day, we had a bouncy castle, pizza van, giant garden games, tombola, and lots more and the day was a huge success. We took a trip to Tees Barrage in June where we had the chance to go kayaking and took on the 18-metre-high air trail!
Here’s what the parents had to say about our Spring activities:
“This was a great, well thought out day with lots of activities to occupy the children. It was well staffed and from the welcome at the door to throughout the day it was a pleasure to be part of.” – UV Family Fun Day.
“5 stars! My son had a truly awesome time, and everyone was so friendly. The activity was very inclusive of additional activities too!” – Speed of Sight.
“We had an amazing time, it was lovely to see my son in his wheelchair enjoy pushing a bowling ball down the ramp.” – Bowling at Planet Leisure.
Summer brought an exciting new programme of activities for children of all ages.
We started the summer off with a sold-out performance of Gangsta’ Granny at the Darlington Hippodrome. We were invited to an exclusive touch tour, where we had the chance to go backstage to feel all of the props, costumes and sets used in the show.
“Thank you so much for providing this for us all and all of the other families. We are so lucky to be a part of the useful vision family and you all never fail to make it a happy and amazing day. Laughter is definitely the best therapy and just what we all needed. I came out feeling like a weight had been lifted. The production was the best and so much fun.” – Gangsta’ Granny at Darlington Hippodrome.
In July, a group of our 8 – 18-year-olds visited The Calvert Trust in Kielder for an incredible day of archery, raft-building and the chance to try the adrenaline-pumping zip coaster, a zip-wire thrill ride which mimics the twists and turns of a rollercoaster. We also dived into Haltwhistle Outdoor Swimming pool!
We kicked off the holidays with a multisports morning, got crafty at the Pottery Loft, enjoyed a day of bushcraft with Moor House Adventure Centre, tried paddleboarding with CBK Adventures, visited Woodhorn Museum, Three Lane Ends Farm, and the Tim Lamb Centre, played goalball with Paralympian, Matt Loftus, then we rounded off the 6-weeks with a great family day out at Beamish Museum!
Summer Fest ’22 was a brand-new addition to our program of activities for visually impaired young people, taking place over 3 Fridays from 29th July to 12th August, designed to empower our community of 12 – 18-year-olds to develop independence, confidence and learn new skills. We launched this programme with a creative cooking session delivered by Nourish Food School, where the children were able to develop intuitive eating skills to create healthy, delicious recipes. The next adventure was a paddleboarding session with CBK Adventures which was a new, exciting experience for our teens. We rounded-off Summer Fest ’22 with a speaker’s day where the teens were given the opportunity to engage with Paralympians and VI influencers.
“The achieving success teenage activity has really helped my son so much, he is starting to acknowledge that even with his sight loss being progressive, and deteriorating fast, he can still achieve great things throughout his life and has been at times feeling more positive around his future. He is now starting to have hopes and dreams again!” – AchieVIng Sucess
Due to the success of this programme, we continued to deliver exclusive teen events towards the end of 2022, and have activities scheduled for the new year which you can book onto here.
We received some brilliant feedback on our summer events:
“We enjoyed everything about this activity. It was very kind of the staff there to let the children have extra time in the water as they were enjoying it so much. It was great to see all of the children and their families having fun. It was also really nice to meet new members of the Useful Vision family.” – Outdoor swimming party at Haltwhistle Leisure Centre.
“Thank you very much from our whole family, you gave my child an exciting new life experience, we had such a brilliant and fascinating day.” – Beamish Museum.
Our active autumn months began with two brilliant trampolining sessions with Velocity Sports, followed by a morning of football with Durham FA and the Foundation of Light and a second rock climbing session with Newcastle Climbing Centre. We visited the Alan Shearer Centre for World Sight Day on 13th October then celebrated Halloween with another fantastic workshop with Kerry from the Art Room. We ended the spooky season with a trip to Hall Hill Farm where we went pumpkin picking, visited the monster maze, and made wands at the wizard school. We then took part in a firework-themed dance workshop with Dance City for Bonfire night to draw the autumn activities to a close.
“This was my daughter’s first session with Useful Vision and she had a wonderful time. She thoroughly enjoyed all the activities that were on offer and the staff and volunteers were all fab, very friendly and welcoming.” – The Art Room.
“Thank you so much for a fantastic day at Hall Hill Farm. We feel very lucky that we get the opportunity to go to all these amazing places. We can’t wait to visit again!” – Halloween at Hall Hill Farm.
We got stuck into some cool activities in the winter of 2022. We hit the slopes snowtubing at Whickham Thorns and got our ice skates on at Billingham Forum. We then ended the year with Useful Vision’s most popular pantomime yet! Over 150 people attended our showing of Cinderella, which was delivered by M&M Productions.
“It was a great afternoon which we all thoroughly enjoyed. It was lovely to have an activity where we could all join in together as a family and fully share the experience with our daughter.” – Snowtubing at Whickham Thorns.
“We really enjoyed this session as a family. It’s something our daughter has been asking to do for a long time but we have never been able to go all together. It was fantastic that our sons pushchair could be taken on the ice and we could do this together.” – Ice Skating at Billingham Forum.
2022 has been extremely successful for Useful Vision, with over 2000 people accessing our activities this year – a great achievement post-pandemic. We’ve delivered over 80 activities to visually impaired children and their families across the North East. We have reached 125 unique families and have had over 50 new families join Useful Vision this calendar year. We are so grateful to everyone that attends our Useful Vision activities, and we are extremely thankful to have worked with such brilliant facilitators and venues throughout the year. We hope to continue this work in the New Year and look forward to seeing you at our 2023 events!