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Resourcing and inspiring inclusive adventure, sport and active lifestyles with disabled people.

EA History & Background

Suresh Paul and Equal Adventure – a potted history

Grass Roots

Suresh Paul founder of Equal Adventure has always been involved with inclusive outdoor activities. His early interest in outdoor adventure activities saw him sitting at the bottom of an abseil watching children with arthritis, whose emotions ranged from tears to laughter as they were in discomfort due to their discomfort in a standard climbing harness. Following several years of coaching, he completed a BA (Hons) degree in Design with Applied Technology and set about his professional life with the ethos: “You have to decide if you want to make money or make sense if you want to be a designer” ,“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything” and “Everyone dreams of a system so perfect that no one has to be good”. These three pillars from Fuller, Churchill and Ghandhi, taken from South Carolinas’s Outward Bounds book of sayings whilst on an Operation Rayleigh Expedition in Alaska, still form the basis of the vision for the Adventure Designs project.

Brunel University and Professor Heinz Wolff

For seven years, from 11am 15th December 1995, with the help of Nigel Winser at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Professor Heinz Wolff, he launched then ran the Adventure Designs Project at Brunel University, which designed outdoor equipment for people with disabilities. Legacies from this foundation research work formed the basis of Equal Adventure.

A Move to Scotland

Wanting to be closer to the wild, Suresh moved to Scotland in 2001 and set up Equal Adventure as a sole trader. He initially concentrated on training and pure academic research, but a year later the Adventure Designs project closed down. Rather than lose all the development work and expertise, Suresh secured the rights to continue these projects under Equal Adventure Developments Ltd. He set up a new office at the National Mountain Centre in Aviemore in September 2003, which provided a firm base and a fresh start to consolidate old work and legacies, as well as providing a platform from which to grow. Successful years of development and further research followed which combined field research, product design and the creation of new resources, and was formalised academically in his PhD, Inclusive Adventure by Design (Paul 2010).

In 2008, Equal Adventure moved to its current base in Dulnain Bridge, where purpose-built facilities enabled the business to grow into the wide ranging operation it is today. The new premises have created the foundation for Equal Adventure Charity (LinK) which continues the development work, alongside EAD’s ethical trading.

Developments 2014 One Big Step

In June 2014 Equal Adventure moved to the Old Dairy on Woodlands Industrial Estate, Grantown on Spey, a dedicated team worked morning noon and night to crate a new base for Equal Adventure Charity and the Developments Team.  The base includes:

  • Meeting Room
  • Training Room
  • Wood Workshop
  • Metal Fabrication Shop
  • Sewing and Cutting Room
  • Design Area
  • Administrative Space
  • Display area and Stock Storage

If you would like to come and meet the team or be part of the team please contact us.

Notable Expeditions which Forged Equal Adventure

Inclusive expeditions include:

  • 1997 Coppermine River Expedition
  • 1998 Israel
  • 2998-99 Ganges
  • 2000 Iceland
  • 2001 Canada Alaska

Key Publications Which form Our Philosophical Standpoint.

Publications include:

  • Directory of Services and Equipment RYA Sailablity
  • Sailing for All – Sailablity
  • Inclusive Expeditions Chapter – International Expedition Planning Handbook
  • Inclusive Paddling – BCU Handbook

The Rationale / Raison D’être

When considering the background and documented conclusions of national campaigns, legislation and trends, it is evident that there are numerous advantages in:
creating risk taking and adventurous opportunities
meeting and balancing legislative requirements to increase access to these opportunities
supporting active meaningful lifestyles.

Why Risk and Adventure?

Although the origins of Equal Adventure started in the early 1990’s, it is thanks to the hard work and diligence of those involved in national campaigns from the year 2000 onwards that the concept of risk can be presented succinctly, including the Question of Balance Conference (2000), the Campaign for Adventure (2006) and the Outdoor Manifesto (2006).
Many would argue that society is becoming risk averse and that it is increasingly difficult to undertake day to day activities without becoming obsessed by health and safety issues. This has a detrimental affect upon the opportunities and choice available to disabled people. Equal Adventure seeks to challenge this through sensible education and careful preparation to enable an appropriate balance to be achieved between risk & safety and achievement & opportunity.
‘Everything we do in our everyday activity, in our work and leisure, involves some element of risk. Risk is an inescapable part of our lives. The challenge for all of us […] is to manage risk in a way which gives us the necessary protection we need without constraining what we do beyond a level that is justified.’ (Blair 2000)
Equal Adventure strongly believes in disabled people being at the core of their choices:
‘The involvement of learners in their own risk assessments is of importance. Risk assessment can be an opportunity for learning, especially for learners with learning difficulties.’ (Rose 2005 pp47)
From a designers perspective this is important as it strengthens the view that the user of any piece of equipment needs to be responsible for the way in which they use the
Outdoor active lifestyles can be used as a vehicle for preventative measures to the negative effects of sedentary lifestyles, which in turn may provide a more sustainable approach to the use of limited health resources. During 2004 the Scottish Executive organised a conference on Forests, Trees and Human Health and Wellbeing; (Clarke 2004).) , during which parties across Europe were urged to encourage their citizens to use the natural environment as an outdoor gym to develop their health.