The inspiration behind the concept of Seven Springs (now known as the Hop Skip & Jump Foundation) came about when Mrs Clarissa Mitchell met Felicity Lane Fox who was paralysed by polio at the age of 12 in 1932.
Her mother Enid had not had a day off from looking after her for 42 years. Felicity said that as a child she could stand the pain and paralysis of polio but not watching other children play. Felicity then asked Clarissa to help her fund raise for what was then know as the Handicapped Adventure Playground Association. Through this work Clarissa realised the great freedom of adventure play for every child with any disability.
In 1980 when Clarissa came to Gloucestershire she met by chance the Chairman of the County Committee for Special Needs Education, Lady Clarke. Lady Clarke said that their was not only a need but a desperation for such a place in Gloucestershire, she said she would find the site if Clarissa raised the funds. And so Hop Skip and Jump Cotswold was opened on 20th July 1982 by the then Baroness Lane-Fox.
Lady Allen was the inspired founder of HAPA, she was a pioneer of nursery schools and after the Second World War she was sent with a group around Europe to see how the children faired in the worst bombed areas. Lady Allen saw them having the time of their lives with great adventures up and down the rubble and playing in the remains of the buildings. She came back to the UK to promote the idea of adventure play. She wasn't listened to so she had the inspiration to start one for disabled children. In 1966 the first adventure playground for children with special needs was built in the grounds of the Rectory of the Old Church in Chelsea, London.
Clarissa stresses at all times how important it is that families should also be cared for. The Foundation is self-financing with no public grants. Clarissa's work goes on surely and positively with plans to extend and in this mission. She has been ably supported by fellow Director the Reverend Celia Carter since 1989.
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