Melanie Cowpland – Mother and Driver
Melanie is a spiritual coach, artist and author who has traveled extensively throughout her life. Having been born in Zimbabwe, her parents traveled frequently with trips including around the world in 6 weeks, Europe by car, Scandinavia even rests as a vague memory from the toddler years. This developed her wonder lust to continue seeing the world had having extraordinary experiences. As an adult, Melanie has traveled independently to India, South East Asia, Peru, China and the United States as well as moved to France on her own, where she lived for six years before returning to the UK to receive better support for her daughter, Sofia.
Melanie would like to take this trip to raise awareness of parents of autism. The experience of living with autism is no less of a cage for the people surrounding it than the little person who is blissfully unaware that they have it. The cage is intense and can be soul destroying, and Melanie, like many others have somehow found a way not only to live with it, but to have a life with it as well. This journey will be a victory to understanding, coping and overcoming against so many odds to the benefit of our little angels.
This opportunity will be a dreams come true all wrapped into one for Melanie and she would like to use it to promote charities and raise awareness of their incredible work, as well as witnessing some of the amazing things that people in the face of adversity. There is so much love in this world and to have the opportunity to raise awareness and effect change will be a life time achievement.
Sofia Cowpland – Daughter and Navigator
Sofia will be 10 years old at time of travel. Born in France in 2005, by the time Sofia was 3 and a half, Melanie had moved them both to the UK to receive better support. Sofia was diagnosed with Autism with speech and language disorder when she was 4. After being home schooled for 2 years, Sofia started her school when she was 7 years old, and has progressed nicely during her time there.
Sofia is trapped by her fears as a result of autism, and at home will often refuse to go out and move between the computer, TV and drawing table with regular visits to the kitchen to snack. This opportunity will help her to see that, not only is there a wider world to experience, but within that the mundane persists, and must persist to ensure physical health, something that she is very resistant to take on board. It will also help her with flexibility and understanding about the variety this world has to offer and the choices that she can make as a result of it. Currently she is very inflexible in her view point and finds it hard to understand that variety is an important part of life, focusing instead on absolutes and wanting the world to fit within them. This is the cause of a lot of stress in her life. Ultimately, this will be about confidence. By the end of this journey, Sofia will have experienced many situations where she will have coped well beyond her own expectations.
Sofia went on her first holiday when she was 9, where for the first time she was able to understand the importance of trying new things, which with autism, is a real battle for her. Whilst she still doesn’t understand everything about what the trip will actually be like, Melanie is introducing her to ways of thinking and images of both the good and bad aspects of the trip that might be experienced. When it comes to the moment traveling, Sofia will be fully prepared and ready to cope and her test will be in her ability to stay forward looking and positive over such a long period of time.