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02 December 2014

Tuesday 2 December

On Wednesday 3 December it is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and in recognition of that we will be promoting the range of Inclusion work that takes place across our network and in our programmes.

Each day of London Youth Inclusion Week we have been posting new content on our website from our members, our outdoor centres and our programmes.

In our second piece on Inclusion in our network we spoke to Yul Muzzioli from Kinja FC, who work with us on our Getting Ready programme in West London.

Tell us about your youth club:

Our work is characterised by giving everyone a safe, exciting and collaborative framework in which to develop their skills. We want to create opportunities for every child and young person with an intellectual disability to take part in quality sports training and competition, to improve their lives and in turn, the lives of everyone they touch. 

Tell us about the disability sports sessions running at your club:

We currently focus on football based sessions and competitions that put forward social, psychological, physical and technical aspects. As a continuum to our project, every participant is eligible to become a Special Olympics registered athlete after attending 1 event with the support of the Clubs Eligibility Officer, and therefore have an amazing amount of opportunities to continue to grow and learn. All events related to this project will gain sanction approval from Special Olympics Great Britain.

Special Olympics Wembley provides 1.5 hours of inclusive football sessions, which run during the hours and within the environment of the school the participants already attend. This football experience aims at offering a varied set of technical drills, physical exercises, small sided games and explanation of the laws of football and basic aspects of tactics. The sessions are inclusive and accessible to players at all skill levels.

Have you seen a positive impact on the young people who have taken part in the sessions?

We have seen athletes and their families understand and appreciate the value of participating in a sport which provides a healthy lifestyle based on continuous physical activity and the stimulation of social interaction between the participants. Further to this, there is the invaluable aspect of learning which leads to successfully acquiring new skills and performing them within a safe environment. We have seen many athletes blossom into better communicators and the confidence that they have gained is invaluable, and greatly reflects on their relationships and studies. 

What are the biggest challenges your youth club has to overcome in getting young people with disabilities involved in physical activities and other opportunities?

Attendance can be challenging since parents find it difficult to find the extra time during the week for any extracurricular activity. We decided to use the school premises and transportation to run the sessions during school hours as this avoids the issue of transportation and maximises the opportunity, time and attendance for the participants. On a pilot project run last year we had a 95% attendance from the athletes as they did not have to add further travel to their day. This also takes away the onus to the parents and children to attend sessions in the evening. It also leaves athletes within safe and familiar environment as coaches and staff from the school, which is familiar to them, is always available to help run the sessions. 

How important is it for young people with disabilities to have opportunities like this?

Pupils with Mild and Severe Learning Disabilities rely heavily on additional support whether from their peers or additional classroom support. Pupils will often require alternative teaching strategies supported by an appropriate range of resources and materials to enhance and support learning. We believe it is very important that everything possible should be done to enhance their self-esteem, since some pupils become so aware of failing that they begin to believe they are incapable of learning. Therefore, we  provide sports training and athletic competition opportunities that puts forward social, psychological, physical and technical aspects giving disabled youth continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.