Sports students at the University of Worcester have been lending their expertise to help children understand more about people living with disabilities.
Those studying HND Sports Coaching and Physical Education teamed up with children - Beavers, Cubs and Scouts - from the 1st Malvern Scout Group to help them achieve their Disability Awareness badge.
James Harrison, age 10, who took part, said: “It was really good and I learnt new things every week. It was really fun working with the students and they explained it well. I learnt quite a bit about disability sport. I also learnt about trust and responsibility and teamwork. It’s probably the second best thing I have done in my life.”
The second year HND Sports Coaching and Physical Education students delivered sessions over three weeks, exploring ideas around disability and inclusion, looking at physical and hidden disabilities, then one giving the children a chance to try a variety of disability sports for themselves. This included Paralympic sports like seated volleyball, boccia, goalball and wheelchair basketball, and Winter Paralympic sport, curling.
For many of the University students this was their first time putting their theoretical studies into practice on the public, as in the past they have been delivering such sessions to each other.
But it proved so successful that now the University is collaborating with the 1st Malvern Scouts to roll it out to other Scout groups in the region.
Another of the Scout group, Harri Bennett, also age 10, said: “It was fun. My favourite part was the wheelchair basketball and the curling because you had to have the perfect amount of weight to get it in the centre.”
University student Danielle Kennedy, 21, said: “We can offer activities that they wouldn’t be able to do elsewhere and we have delivered sessions that we have never delivered before so it was good experience. In the first few weeks we saw the children’s personalities so that we were able to adapt for the next session. I feel more confident now in managing groups of children.”
Beth Young, 20, said: “I have developed over the sessions and I have watched the kids grow – at the start they wouldn’t have talked to you but now they will. We have been learning about this for so long and have taught each other, but to put it into practise with kids teaches you what works with kids, so it was useful.”
Polly Lasota, Senior Lecturer in Physical Education and Coaching Science, said: “It was great for our students be able to engage with the wider community and help the children achieve their Disability Awareness badge and I think it really showed our students’ capabilities. Working with the children brings out so much more in them. It’s been transformative in regards to showing the students the importance of their role in society and that they can be seen as role models. It was fantastic to see them using their professional skills in practice and I saw many of them shine through in that setting.
“We hope this will also facilitate a higher standard in the students’ assessment because they can link their theoretical knowledge to this real life experience. As such, I hope this experience provides them with more confidence in aspiring to achieve their future career goals in teaching and/or coaching.”