News of the new Dreamstore Education Action Zone very quickly reached Kent. It was agreed with the British Disabled Angling Association, supported with Environment Agency funding, to explore the level of interest in Kent. In Birmingham the Wilson Stuart School is part of a wider school network of 40 special schools. There appeared to be no formal network in Kent. Dreamstore was offered the use of Turkey Mill near Maidstone which has the advantage of access to excellent private fishing waters.
One of the first responses to our invitation to attend a demonstration day was Meadowfield School, Sittingbourne. We invited Meadowfield to bring along a number of pupils to participate in the day and to show the DEAZ in action. A number of schools sent representatives to review the DEAZ. However, discussion quickly turned to where an outdoor activity could be organized; concluding that there was a complete lack of facilities for disabled anglers in Kent.
The school hugely appreciated the opportunity for the pupils to engage with the DEAZ. The teachers to had a wonderful day, readily identified the learning opportunities and versatility of DEAZ and will be enthusiastic partners in working with Dreamstore when DEAZ goes to Kent.
Before the DEAZ goes to Kent, the BDAA is working with the EA to identify what is required to make available suitable angling for a group or disabled pupils, or indeed a large number of mainstream students. Work too needs to be undertaken in identification of reaching across the various schools that may have an interest, and turning that interest into a sustained programme. What is needed is an anchor school or an individual who will champion the value of the programme in the County, in the same way as the Wilson Stuart School is taking a lead in Birmingham.