An Aberdeen mum is preparing to put her best foot forward in this year’s Aberdeen Kiltwalk covering an impressive 18 miles on foot, to raise vital funds for Camphill School Aberdeen’s (CSA) £10million capital campaign.

Dawn Rowan was inspired to raise money for the charity, which provides residential and day services to children and young people with learning disabilities and complex additional needs, as her son Seth, 17, has been a resident at CSA for almost two years.

As a parent of a child with additional support needs, Dawn was faced with the difficult decision to move Seth into residential care when it became clear mainstream education wasn’t working out for him.

Seth is autistic and has ADHD among other needs, and since moving to CSA he has thrived and learned many new practical skills.

As a youngster, he attended nursery and a local primary school before moving to an additional support needs wing within a local secondary mainstream school.

Dawn had been advised that eventually, residential care should be considered for Seth and as it became apparent that the secondary school setting wasn’t right for him despite the best efforts of everyone involved, it was determined that residential care would be the best route to follow.

“The school was too big and Seth needs structure and a real, strict routine. But as the school wasn’t right for him he had to be excluded from certain activities, and while staff did everything they could to try to accommodate Seth’s needs, his meltdowns increased significantly both at school and at home, and he was destroying things as he was being effectively contained in an environment that just didn’t work for him.”

Once the choice was made to move him, Dawn explained that they could have fallen victim to the crisis in care situation, as the family were told an alternative available residential placement for him would have been in Falkirk.

“If it wasn’t for Camphill, I don’t know where we would be,” she said. “It was hard enough having to make the decision to move him into residential care so finding out we might have had to move him so far away added extra pressure on us.”

Camphill School Aberdeen supports 100 young people through an integrated approach that combines national curriculum-aligned teaching, a range of vocational workshops, therapies, leisure and recreational facilities and on-site medical care. The method ensures the young people who are supported are able to become more independent, grow in confidence and achieve outcomes their families never thought possible.

The school has seen demand for its service sky-rocket in recent years and is all too aware of the impact cuts to critical services is having on young people with additional needs and their families. Camphill School Aberdeen launched its £10 million capital campaign, Building Futures Transforming Lives, in direct response to the crisis in care and will provide meaningful opportunities for an additional 54 young people with complex additional support needs.

Phase 1 of the campaign will build an 11 bedroom state-of-the-art residential house with an independent living wing which will be used as accommodation for highly complex young people who are unable to always fully participate in “home” life, or as a training flat for young people who may be able to live more independently as they transition to adulthood.

The second project of the first phase will transform the former Murtle book shop into a sustainable social enterprise and community hub, Murtle Market, creating a ‘zero waste’ organic farm shop, refillery and heritage hub to promote the charity’s impressive 90 decade history and showcase the range of different crafts made by the young people it supports.

Dawn continued: “Seth loves Camphill, and the difference in him has been amazing. His development has come on leaps and bounds to where he was.

“He is learning lots of practical life skills, everything from fixing bikes to growing vegetables. We went to see him at Christmas in the nativity and he played the role of the Inn Keeper. It was a huge thing for him to get up on the stage and do his thing. Before his life at Camphill he would never have been able to do it, and we were so proud.”

Alex Busch, Executive Director of Camphill School Aberdeen, said: “We are extremely grateful to Dawn and her team from Vysus for getting together to show their support for us. Seth is a great young man, and it is evident he has continued to thrive since he became a resident with us.

“It is crucial that action is taken now to provide families with local support before the situation decreases more. The fundraising support from people like Dawn, is helping us to reach our aims and be part of the solution in Aberdeen.”

Dawn concluded: “I am so grateful for the support and experiences Seth receives at Camphill. Accepting that a residential placement was the best option for him was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, however it has also turned out to be the best decision I have ever made, as his progress has been beyond what I could have expected.”

Dawn will be joined by supportive work colleagues from Vysus Group, in the Aberdeen Kiltwalk on Sunday 4 June. Two groups will take part in both the three-mile and 17.8-mile walks.

If you would like to support Dawn on the Kiltwalk visit

Find out more about the Capital Appeal and how you can help, here - Capital Appeal | Camphill School (

More like this…

View all