On Tuesday 7th June, Wanderers Stalwart, James (Jimmy) Green, realised a major ambition when an introduction to Rugby and training session was held for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) at Thanet Wanderers' ground at St Peters Recreation Ground.
Jimmy had determined to set up a SEND hub after seeing the success of the Wanderers Schools hub that is open to years 7-9 pupils from Thanet mainstream schools, an initiative which he also heads up. Jimmy works with autistic children and himself attended a special needs school. After a long and very successful career in rugby, Jimmy knows what an amazing sport rugby can be in helping to improve children's confidence, fitness and the ability to work as part of a team: this frequently leads to an improvement in a child's mental health. He knows too that there are still not enough groups catering for SEND children and the new initiative presented a great opportunity to give these special children the chance to try rugby whilst having fun, meeting and interacting with other youngsters.
Wanderers committee gave the scheme its full backing and funding was obtained from Sport England thanks to the good offices of Peter Ruranski, who manages grant applications for the club in addition to his duties as sponsorship manager. Wanderers marketing director, Andy Bull, has given unstinting support throughout the whole process of developing the hub. His graphics and google form register have provided very detailed information about dietary requirements plus medical conditions and learning needs. These have been invaluable in the preparation for the disAbility Hub.
Darren Reeve from, the Wooden Spoon, the children's charity of rugby, who has wide experience in coaching special needs youngsters had already agreed to be part of the coaching team. The amazing funding from Sport England really gave the club the opportunity to get even more quality coaches and fund prizes and equipment.
On Tuesday evening Jimmy and Darren Reeve were joined by Mel Tsangrides and Liv from Inclusive Sport, where Mel is one of the more senior and experienced coaches. Her persuasion and gentle persistence at Session One eventually managed to encourage a final youngster to join the proceedings rather than play in the muddy pools on the touchline. Danny Vaughan who has worked for England rugby and who is presently Head Coach at Deal and Betts RFC also brought his innovative skills to the evening. Many volunteers and coaches from the club were also there to ensure a high level of care and assistance. U6s coach Mario Garcia was joined by Women's Director of rugby, Vicky Flower and Brioni Reah from Wanderers Ladies section and Max Anderson, last season's U16s captain. Thank you to them and to Kelly Smith and Gerry Doyle who provided post-session refreshments that were received most politely and were clearly much appreciated
All of your efforts to provide a great evening were rewarded by 100% assurances from those participating that they would be back next week when they will be joined by pupils from the Bradstow School who had not yet returned to school after the half-term break. A comment from one parent that his son had never joined in any sporting activity before but had thoroughly enjoyed the activities at Wanderers summed up the reactions. Thank you for bringing your children to Thanet Wanderers, we enjoyed having them at our club.
13 June 2022
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