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Holly Johnson Occupational Therapy Student

My extended scope placement with Access the Dales

Health care placements make for an exciting and challenging time, that gives healthcare students valuable experience of working in a professional capacity, far from the comfort of their lectures and friends in class.

Feeling competent and confidant in my future practice is my goal, and why I always push myself out of my comfort zone while on placement.

When the opportunity to work towards improving wheelchair access in the Yorkshire Dales came up, I jumped at the chance because I had yet to work with physical disabilities, and this was a chance to learn and expand my current knowledge in the area.

Access the Dales turned out to be a brand-new charity and Debbie North, the creator, was in desperate need of many hands to help build it. The charity’s goal was to set up hubs for people with disabilities and their families, so they could borrow a wheelchair for appropriate routes in the Yorkshire Dales.

It was clear, this was not going to be your average extended scope placement; other students were going into well established charities, facing the task of carrying out interventions that have long been explored and documented by other students before them.

I thought about the impact I would leave behind after my placement, I would be helping many who did not realise that they too, could be out exploring the Yorkshire Dales. For example, reaching the waterfall at Gordale Scar or following the river along Malham Tarn. These are beautiful and enriching places that I have always taken for granted to be in, this was an opportunity to improve access and inclusivity for many who long for it.

My First Day

I met Debbie and her support dog Tipps in Ingleborough for a coffee, before heading to Sulber Nick with Johnathan ( and his puppy Holly. Debbie suggested I try out the Terrain Hopper to become familiar with the equipment I would be promoting. It was a lot of fun and surprisingly easy to operate. I thoroughly enjoyed cruising over the rough terrain I thought would be impossible for wheelchair users. Jonathan pointed out Pen-y-Ghent in the distance and explained the history of the glacially deposited limestone boulders, that had been formed by rainwater dissolving the glaciers over thousands of years. These are the classic features of the Dales, limestone with scars and grykes that surround any who adventure out there.

I am so looking forward to working with Access the Dales and to be able to play a part in the development of this charity.

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