Finding confidence through sport

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Will, my brother, and I are part of the Youth Sport Trust Inclusion 2020 Board. We represent young people with and without disabilities.

The Youth Sport Trust aims to deliver an initiative, developed by Inclusion in PE, School Sport and Physical Activity grant, through the Department of Education.

The Board supports 50 lead inclusion schools across England and stages events to train staff and act as a way to share best practice.

The funding from the Department of Education will and is doing wonders to spread the reach to pupils, schools and teachers. It is made up of many organisations whom all link with sports and those with special educations needs and disabilities.

Through our work with this board Will and I were asked to join Vicci Wells, National Manager – Targeted Interventions at YST, to co-present a session at their staff Away Day. Our session was just one of many for the staff members who all worked in different divisions and were part of different teams. Our session title was Empowerment and we focussed of the Empowerment of Youth.

We wanted to make our presentation interactive, engaging, fun and informative! We started with our ice breaker with our Chateez cards. These depict emojis representing different feelings. They are an effective tool used to help those who struggle to identify or express their emotions. These cards are a great and inclusive way of sparking conversation even about the most complex of things. We all love Chateez cards, they really helped Will use his voice and develop his confidence. This helped get people to open up about their day so far and share their feelings towards about Empowerment.

Vicci shared some facts and figures about schools, young people and schools and the projects to try and better this. There are so many great projects that are out there to help make inclusion more widespread and equalise opportunities. A survey taken in schools across the UK in 2017 revealed that 31 per cent of students felt they were only sometimes listened to and only four per cent felt their ideas were not listened to at all. Additionally, 20 per cent of teachers felt that pupils in their school do not have equal opportunities to influence activities in their school.

Will and I then were given an opportunity to share our story. It was great to reflect how youth empowerment has changed our lives.

Will wanted to share: “I like meeting new friends, like Laura and Vicci, who are so nice to me and support me. Without sport I am nervous and shy. With sport I am happy and confident. When I was younger, I was not allowed to join in. This made me feel upset and worried. Now I can join in and also be a leader I feel awesome, wicked and amazing. After all our work I feel confident to use my voice. I feel like people will listen to me when I speak, help when I need help and I feel like I can achieve anything.”

It has been a crazy and magical few years for Will and our family. This time three years ago Will would not have been able to stand up and talk in front three people let alone a room full. The amount of change I have seen in him has been truly incredible. He has had such a positive impact on me and so many others. He has shown people that he is not disabled he is able in a different way. He is empowered and feels like he can achieve. I no longer worry about his future. I know he will succeed in anything because he feels like he can.

Princess Diana said ‘Everyone needs to be valued. Everyone has the potential to give something back.’ Please empower and give people the chance to give back.