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A group of university-level students did a high ropes challenge at Nescot’s Big Sky Adventures centre on Thursday (May 10) as part of their course.

Nine people studying the Foundation Degree in Healthcare Play Specialism, together with the programme leader Norma Jun-Tai, scaled Jacob’s Ladder for their Play and Recreation module.

The students, many of whom were afraid of heights, worked in teams to scale the ladder, supporting one another literally and metaphorically.

Health Play specialists work in hospitals and hospices, using play as a therapeutic tool to help children and young people to understand and cope with their illness, tests and treatment.

“The young people we work with push themselves all the time to have yet another blood test or operation despite feeling scared,” Norma said.

“Our role is to help them to find new coping strategies, new ways of supporting them when they’re frightened and new ways of communicating so that they understand what’s happening to them.

“Doing the Jacob’s Ladder challenge was a practical way for the students to feel what it’s like to be outside of your comfort zone but to see the difference help and support can make.”

After the high ropes challenge, the students visited the farm to talk to Animal Management staff about pet therapy, and then spent some time working on arts and crafts ideas.

Student Charlotte Mayhew-Goodwin, who works on the children’s ward at a hospital in Essex, said she had enjoyed the high ropes challenge.

“It was a really interesting practical activity, because it encouraged us to think in a different way about what the children we’re working with experience,” she added.

“I know I will be able to apply what I’ve learnt at work, from looking at how I communicate to thinking about a young person overcoming a physical challenge.”

Grant Gallacher, Outdoor Adventure and High Ropes Manager at Nescot, praised the way the students had worked together and how some had overcome a fear of heights to climb the ladder.

“Our high ropes course and bouldering wall are really interesting, practical ways a lot of different concepts,” he said.

“That could range from the technical aspects of climbing, to improving physical fitness, to looking at teamwork, problem solving and communication.”

The high ropes course and bouldering wall are open to adults, and children aged nine and over. To book, contact Grant on 020 8394 3290 or email