‘Fantastic’ sports provision for SEN children celebrates first year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 October 2018

Clevedon United Football Club's inclusive section. Picture: Paul Ryan

Clevedon United Football Club's inclusive section. Picture: Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan

A ‘fantastic’ provision which has helped build the confidence of children with mental and physical disabilities has reached the end of its first year of operations.

Clevedon United Football Club is celebrating the end of its first year since creating an inclusive section to its club, led by the juniors coach Phil Williams.

The idea was his wife and club secretary Jo Williams’, who started working on the plans after seeing another team praised for its inclusive section.

Jo said: “We started batting some ideas around and presented it to the club’s committee and we were fortunate enough that we had a committee who were willing for us to set it up.

“We usually have between eight and 10 children come every week and it has become a lovely little group of friends now.

“You just look at their faces and they are having such fun. They are in a safe environment and it is their own time to just enjoy sport.

“It has been a fantastic year, it is something which our town and our neighbouring town’s need.

“I want to throw the gauntlet down and say more clubs should be offering this kind provision for children with special needs.”

Lindsay Pickles, mother of 14-year-old Jamie who has hemiplegia, said her family ‘loves’ to see her son happy.

Lindsay said: “We found out about it through Facebook. There is nothing out there for children with special needs and when I saw this group advertised it was great.

“He loves it and it is all he looks forward to all week. He loves the trainers and being around the other kids like him.

“It means so much to him, it is massive. It gets him out and this is his one social outlet.

“At normal clubs they are made to feel like they are no good but there is nothing like that here. They do not need to be professional players to enjoy it.”

Parent Shelley Wadey praised the club’s ‘relaxing’ environment.

Her 13-year-old son Thomas, who has a visual impairment and problems with his co-ordination, has been attending from the start.

She said: “He joins in here on his own merit and everyone is welcome and everyone’s successes are celebrated. It helps build his independence and confidence skills.”

The group is held every Sunday from 10-11am at Clevedon School, in Valley Road, for children aged five to 16.

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