For over a decade, the SMS Foundation UK has been uniting families living with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS) through its biennial conferences, creating a space for shared journeys and invaluable information. However, after our milestone 30th-anniversary celebration in May 2022, held at Voco St John’s Hotel in Solihull, it became apparent that our beloved event has outgrown its traditional hotel setting.
Outgrowing Tradition: A Need for Change
Our previous conference venue offered a central location, flexible meeting spaces, excellent facilities, and comfortable rooms to accommodate our families. However, the challenges presented by a shared public space and rising costs have led us to reconsider the conference’s format. It’s time for a breath of fresh air, a new approach that aligns with the evolving needs and desires of our SMS community.
Why the Change?
Our decision to transition to a new format is rooted in understanding what our community truly values. Through feedback gathered at previous conferences, we identified three key elements:
- Connection: Families want to connect and share their unique journeys.
- Education: There is a thirst for knowledge about SMS.
- Community: Feeling safe and relaxed in an environment where everyone understands.
A New Beginning: The Family Activity Weekend
In response to these insights, we are thrilled to announce a groundbreaking change for next year. Instead of the traditional conference, we are piloting a Family Activity Weekend! Departing from the hotel setting, we have secured exclusive use of the Mount Cook Adventure Centre in Derbyshire from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th of August 2024.
What to Expect: The SMS Adventure Experience
Get ready for an action-packed weekend filled with family-friendly outdoor activities such as climbing, archery, zip-wire, high and low ropes, bushcraft, and problem-solving—all set against the picturesque backdrop of the Peak District. We’re working closely with Mount Cook to ensure activities cater to all abilities and fitness levels, so everyone can participate.
For those who prefer a more relaxed experience, Jayne and her team from SOS Care Services will be on hand to provide support. Whether it’s indoor games or crafts, everyone is included.
Information sessions tailored to specific needs will run in between the outdoor fun. From Friday’s meet-and-greet session around the campfire to Sunday’s final farewells, every moment promises to be filled with connection, learning, and joy.
Limited Spaces: Act Fast!
While this event will be more intimate, with approximately 140 participants, its success will pave the way for similar gatherings in different UK locations. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing more details and an expression of interest form to gauge demand and fine-tune our plans.
In breaking from tradition, we’re forging a path toward a more intimate, engaging, and family-focused experience. We hope you will join us on this exciting new chapter, redefining the way we come together, learn, and support one another within the SMS community. Let the adventure begin!