Alexander the Great explores Port Sunlight River Park
By Alex Baldwin
My name is Alex. I have mild autism and received my diagnosis when I was a child. My autism affects me in different ways; I worry a lot about the future and I need to have instructions explained clearly to me, step by step but I’m a very sociable person and love to meet new people.
I have volunteered at the Rainbow Resource Centre at Autism Together for a number of years; I especially like helping children settle in, meeting new people and joining in at parenting groups.
I have been asked to become a reporter for Autism Together and give an insight into things from an autism point of view. My first mission was to visit Port Sunlight River Park as Autism Together manages the park. Here, I was asked to take part in one of their weekly health walks and then meet the famous River Park Ranger, Anne Litherland, and put her on the spot with some of my interview questions.
I had checked the weather forecast for the day and it said there were going to be showers, but it turned out to be wrong and was a surprisingly sunny and bright blue day. Anne guided the health walk – these take place on a weekly basis and are open for everyone to join. We experienced so much in the short space of time; we could see the calm grey waters rippling towards the stunning scenery of Liverpool Cathedral and the Radio City Tower.
There were quite a few people enjoying the peaceful exercise to and from the stunning views, so I thought why not have a chat to some of them? The first guy I talked to was Dave Cornwell and asked him why he came on these walks. He said, “I like the fresh air and socialising.” Another walker, Pauline Jones, said, “It’s the best exercise, get you out with people and as the seasons change, so do the views.”
After the walk (which lasts about an hour), we were then invited back to the site office for a cup of tea and some biscuits; of which I ate the most! Once I had said my goodbye to everyone I sat down with Anne and asked her some questions;
How long has the park been opened and do you have any future developments?
The park has been opened to the public for the last two and a half years and we hope that future developments will include a bigger café and additional walking routes.
Have you ever spotted any unusual and surprising wildlife?
I once saw a short-eared owl here at the park and I’ve come across some exotics plants, which we had to control before they caused us any problems.
How does the River Park benefit people with autism?
There is plenty of fresh air and free space here for people to be themselves and no crowds that might cause them to feel overwhelmed.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really enjoy meeting new people at the park and of course the spectacular views which are forever changing and surprising me.