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The best accessible days out in Sussex

By Jack Northeast, Activities Team Leader

There’s nothing more enjoyable than a fun day out with the whole family. When when you have a child with accessibility requirements a fun day can be a headache to organise if you don’t know in advance the place you’re going is able to cater for your needs.

A recent Department of Work and Pensions Survey indicated that 24 per cent of the UK’s population has a disability, which includes an increase of disabled children. In the last decade, children living with disabilities has reached 11%. And yet, it’s still not easy to find fun days out for the whole family that cater for common accessibility needs.

We’ve asked our Activities Lead, Jack, to suggest the best accessible days out in Sussex. Our activities team have the job of organising lots of fun days out that are safe and enjoyable for everyone. Below are some our our tried and tested days out that come with the seal of approval from Jack and his team, as well as the children of Chestnut Tree House!

Our top picks for days out in Sussex

At the park

Sussex is full of beautiful parks, but our favourite is Hotham Park in Bognor Regis. The playground has accessible equipment such as a wheelchair swing, the miniature railway has a wheelchair-accessible carriage and the paths are all flat and smooth, perfect for a lovely stroll looking at the stunning carved Alice in Wonderland figures. Cycall at Brooklands Park in Worthing has a wide range of accessible equipment to ensure everyone can enjoy the fun of cycling. Brooklands Park in Lancing has a new playground with a wheelchair swing and a Changing Places bathroom. They also do seasonal adapted bike hire for different abilities.

A day out on a speedbaot with a community nurse

Image above: Tyler enjoying a day out with Wetwheels 

On the water

Wetwheels has boats all over the country, specially adapted to ensure wheelchair-users and people with limited mobility can enjoy the exhilarating experience of powerboating. We have taken Chestnut Tree House children on Wetwheels trips in Eastbourne and Portsmouth, we’ve seen seals and porpoises and many of the children and young people have even driven the boat! You can book individually places or reserve the entire boat for your group.

Based at Bracklesham Bay, Scooter the Surf Therapy Dog has a specially adapted surfboard and beach wheelchair. He runs his own surf therapy sessions called Fluro Fridays and Super Salty Saturdays with local charity One Wave Bracklesham Bay.

At the beach

Brighton has accessible wheelchairs and other equipment that supports those with limited mobility to access the beach. You can hire these by visiting the Seafront Office (between the two piers on the lower promenade) It’s always worth checking with your local council to see if they provide this service at your local beach. Scooter the Surf Dog and his owner Kirstie, mentioned above, also run beach school sessions for all abilities

Two healthcare workers on a community visit

Image above: Kirsty, Lisa and Sam having fun at the beach

In the air

Lodge Hill, an inclusive outdoor centre near Pulborough, is another great place to enjoy accessible cycling. The centre has a range of bikes to suit everyone’s needs and also offers accessible zip lining on their 100m zip line, 11m in the air. Users can be hoisted directly from the wheelchair, making this experience accessible to every thrill-seeker, no matter their ability.

At the circus

Circus Starr tours the country performing super-accessible circus shows for families. They have multiple wheelchair spaces at their performances (which must be booked in advance) and adapt their performance so it is fully inclusive for all. This includes the provision of a touring Changing Places toilet with a hoist and changing bench. The troupe also provides a sensory story pack to help audience members with profound and complex learning disabilities to prepare for their visit.

At the theatre

Accessibility is not just about mobility. Some experiences can be overstimulating to those with additional needs due to noise, sound or lights. But “relaxed performances” are a great, inclusive way of enjoying the theatre in your own way. They are quieter, the auditorium is lighter, and audience members can get up and move about should they feel they need to. Relaxed performances have become a regular feature at most theatres and it’s worth contacting your local theatre about when their next relaxed performance may be. Lots of theatres also offer audio-described performances for those with visual impairments and signed performances for those with hearing impairments. With wheelchair spaces on the rise, theatres are becoming one of the most accessible days out. Some of our favourites for accessibility are Chichester Festival Theatre, Brighton Dome and the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

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Image of a child at the house having fun and covered in paint