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Windmill Hill students launch Widget symbols at Woburn

On 2nd May, Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire threw a birthday party for Wednesday, the one-eyed Bactrian camel, to celebrate the launch of a new a range of visual aids, with students from Windmill Hill school invited to join in.

Days out can easily descend into stress and become overwhelming for children with additional needs. To prevent that, Woburn Safari Park’s new communication tools have been created for autistic children and their families to make visiting the park a much more relaxed experience. 

It has partnered with visual communication experts Widgit to create resources to help – a selection of new symbols and images that support communication in a visual way. These include information about the animals, food options, and leisure activities. They support neurodiverse people in sharing their preferences, interests, and needs, helping to foster a calmer and more enjoyable environment when visiting.

To commemorate the occasion, Woburn Safari Park and Widgit invited pupils from Windmill Hill School to a party for Wednesday the camel’s second birthday. The students prepared carrots for the camels to eat, and enjoyed learning about the camels’ unique personalities, habitats and food preferences. 

Natasha Kyle, head of education at Woburn Safari Park, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to see the students spending time with the camels. The new communication tools will improve inclusion and accessibility as well as educate and inspire visitors about the importance of wildlife conservation. We’re looking forward to sharing them with every young person who comes to our safari park.”

Visual stories from Widgit are also available to help explain to children with special needs what will happen when they visit the safari park. The stories ensure children feel prepared and are less likely to feel overwhelmed. Guides with commonly used picture symbols are on hand for pre-verbal children and those with limited vocabulary to indicate what they like and dislike. Just by pointing to the relevant symbol, they can share whether they want to get close to an animal or not.