Sheffield United Community Foundation is delighted to receive support from the Big Lottery Reaching Communities programme to fund a three-year initiative working with young people with Down's Syndrome.
The Foundation had been running a successful pilot that offered young people aged between 5 and 25 years old with Down's Syndrome an opportunity to play sport one evening a week at the club's Academy. The pilot was a massive success with the children, parents and siblings joining the Foundation's coaches in fun-filled sessions which created a fantastic environment for all concerned.
The pilot culminated in the children visiting West Bromwich Albion FC for the Premier League's Down's Syndrome Football Festival. Scott Pollington, DSActive Football Development Officer at the Down's Syndrome Association, said: "We are ecstatic to have Sheffield United Community Foundation's team join us. I am excited to see the development the children have made over the past year".
A parent of one of the participants wrote: "We were delighted with these sessions as Miles loves football but increasingly finds himself marginalised in games with normally developing peers. It has been a delight for him to be able to play regularly, and for us to see him be a part of a group which supports developing skills and understanding in a safe and professional environment. There is nothing else like it in Sheffield. We feel that it is essential for Miles to get into a good routine of exercise which he will hopefully carry forward into adulthood."
On the basis of this positive feedback and the support of the families involved, the Foundation were eager to continue offering this provision and are extremely grateful for the funding that will enable the pilot to be rolled out over the next three years for the benefit of existing and new participants. The funding will enable the Foundation to sustain the weekly sports provision and in doing so will help participants not only build their confidence, enjoy associated health benefits, it will also provide a great way for the families to establish a network of new friends and support.
Mark Todd, Head of the Foundation, said: "The pilot was a massive success with the children, parents and siblings joining the Foundation's coaches in fun-filled sessions which created a fantastic environment for all concerned. The funding will enable us to continue to provide this opportunity for young people with Down's Syndrome to enjoy the pleasure of participating in sport. It also offers the families an opportunity to meet in a fun and relaxed environment."