City of Bristol College SEND Student Designs National Christmas Card for ASDAN

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A photograph by a City of Bristol College student on the Progression into Independence course, Gabriel Dodds, was chosen by education charity and awarding organisation, ASDAN, as the artwork for their national Christmas card.


A keen photographer, Gabriel (19) displays his photography in his room at the Brislington Centre, a new residential accommodation for City of Bristol College students with special education needs and disabilities (SEND), where he stays 5 days a week in order to develop skills needed for independent adulthood.


Members of the ASDAN team visited the Brislington Centre and saw some of Gabriel’s photographs during a tour of the facilities. They were so impressed with Gabriel’s photography that they decided to contact The Brislington Centre and ask if he would submit some of his work for the ASDAN card. 


Gabriel was heading to Port Isaac for his break. While there, he gathered beach glass and pebbles and arranged them into a festive Christmas tree shape. He snapped the photo on his phone and worked with Jamie Harris, Learning Support Practitioner, who said that, because of the high quality of the photo and the design, he didn’t really need to edit it much at all.


Gabriel said: “It’s great to have been picked. I feel amazed, excited and proud all at once because I did it myself and I love taking photos.


“It was a lot of work and I found all of the glass myself. My family are very proud and when I told them I’d been chosen, they gave me lots of hugs.”


Jemma Davies, Lead Designer at ASDAN, said: “Gabriel submitted a number of different photos, however we decided on the pebbles image as we all felt it was a really creative and imaginative take on the traditional Christmas tree.


“We’re so used to seeing snowy, wintry scenes on Christmas cards, so Gabriel’s beach combing tree really stood out for us. Since sharing this design with the rest of the staff at ASDAN, we have received lots of positive feedback about Gabriel’s design; everyone thinks it is a really creative image and one member of staff said that it is their favourite ASDAN Christmas card to date!”


Around 200 hard copies of the card have been printed and these will be sent out by members of ASDAN’s regional team to ASDAN centres and contacts across the UK and internationally. An electronic version of the card will be emailed out by all members of ASDAN’s staff to reach an even wider audience.


Adam Metcalfe, Independent Training Facilities Manager at City of Bristol College’s Brislington Centre, said: “It’s an amazing achievement. We’re very proud of Gabriel and he should be really proud of himself. It’s going to be a national card, which means plenty of recognition for him.”


The Brislington Centre is a new residential training facility, developed as part of a collaboration between City of Bristol College and Bristol City Council. In 2016, ASDAN awarded The Brislington Centre a grant for a gardening project as part of the Progression into Independence course, which aims to teach young people with SEND the skills needed for adulthood. The centre has seven bedrooms to accommodate students on a flexible basis ranging from daily access to the house and overnight visits through to weekly stays. There is an additional room for sleep-in members of staff. The site spans over an acre of grounds with a fully-fitted learning kitchen, multi-functional living room, laundry room, and a garden with sensory pathways and quiet areas. An eco-friendly outdoor classroom will be developed in the future.


ASDAN is an education charity and awarding organisation, providing flexible and engaging programmes and qualifications that help young people develop skills for learning, work and life. As a charity, ASDAN holds to a key vision and a set of values. To support this, they have established a charitable fund and award grants to ASDAN registered centres. These grants help increase educational opportunity and alleviate the effects of deprivation and poverty, both in the UK and overseas; they are especially keen to support innovation and creative approaches.


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