CHILDREN with disabilities and behavioural challenges in Coventry have used the game of Rugby as a catalyst for social inclusion and skill-building.
More than 150 children from six special educational needs schools across the city took part in Accessible Rugby in the last year as part of the latest City of Rugby initiative.
The Engage rugby programme is the first of its type to have launched in special schools in the city and has seen children aged from eight to 26 receive weekly coaching sessions from Coventry Rugby Club.
The 12-week course saw players learn basic skills such as passing, catching and evasion to help improve their spacial awareness and hand-eye co-ordination.
Pupils were also taught about the core values of the game, such as teamwork and respect, while competing in a tag rugby festival at the Alan Higgs Centre.
Matt Price of Coventry Rugby Club said: “Not only has Accessible Rugby given many children the opportunity to experience a new sport they may not otherwise have tried, but they also received high-quality coaching from players from our first team squad.
“We’re thrilled with the success of the programme pilot and will be working to provide more opportunities to those from non-traditional rugby playing backgrounds in future.”
Accessible Rugby was launched as part of the eight-year strategy to establish Coventry as a City of Rugby – an initiative which aims to drive up participation across all age ranges and at every level, by 2023.
Tom Clift, programme manager of Engage Coventry, said: “Engage uses rugby as a platform to provide social and education benefits through engaging children and getting them active to develop them into confident and well-rounded young people.
“We are working to make the game more accessible to all – including those with disabilities and behavioural challenges.”
Lisa Batch, headteacher of Corley Centre and chair of the Coventry Special School Network, said: “As headteachers, we are keen to continue developing links between the Coventry Special Schools Network and Engage.”
Schools which took part in the programme’s pilot include Sherbourne Fields School, Woodfield School, Corley Centre, Castlewood School, Baginton Fields, Tiverton, Three Spires Academy, and Riverbank Academy.