PUPILS and staff celebrated World Autism Acceptance Week with a project culminating in a walk on paths alongside the route of a railway line.

Nearly 50 learners from Aycliffe School were joined by 55 staff for the two-and-a-half-mile walk, starting near the Locomotion railway museum, at Shildon, and finishing at Aycliffe train station.

The County Durham school is a purpose-built, independent unit run by the North East Autism Society as part of the expanding charity’s support for autistic and neurodivergent people across the region.

The youngsters had spent the week leading up to the walk filling scrapbooks with drawings, poetry and stories on the theme of ‘What Autism Means To Me’. They also decorated t-shirts with positive messages and made friendship bracelets for the occasion.

NEAS stages an annual ‘Walk For Autism’ and this year it is being held on April 14 at Herrington Country Park, near Sunderland. However, because the event falls during the Easter holidays, when the school is closed, staff decided to stage a separate walk of their own.

Teacher Kirri Timmis said: “It was an opportunity for us all to be together, and enjoy getting some exercise outside of the school setting. The learners have learned a lot about themselves during the week, understanding how everyone is different, and why we should celebrate those differences.”