How AITC helped McKenzie to become a leader
Albion in the Community (AITC) is using football to support Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) schools throughout Sussex.
McKenzie Box, 14, is one of the boys who has flourished in AITC’s school football sessions at St Mary’s SEND school in Horam, East Sussex.
McKenzie hugely impressed teachers and AITC coaches with how much he grew in confidence during his football sessions.
By the end of the programme, McKenzie was even staying behind to help support the younger pupils.
Albion in the Community has been supporting pupils at St Mary’s as part of the charity’s mission to help improve the learning and skills of local people.
The sessions aim to engage pupils through exercise and use the power of football to support their social and mental wellbeing needs, whilst helping to develop their communication, teamwork, patience, and resilience.
How football has helped McKenzie
McKenzie’s time with Albion in the Community has helped him to learn important life skills and grow in confidence.
Over the course of the programme at St Mary’s McKenzie took younger pupils under his wing by guiding them on how to break down the skills, supporting them with the emotional side of football, and explaining why it’s important not to give up when a challenge arises.
AITC’s disability education development officer Hayley Templeman explained how he became a shining example: “McKenzie was an absolute pleasure to coach during the sessions, and he always had a great attitude towards learning and improving his football skills.
“He also demonstrated on the pitch the need to be patient and how important resilience is.”
Hayley added: “McKenzie always comes with a smile on arrival and is keen to help where he can.
“His teachers have fed back that this has been reflected in his attitude in the classroom with many of the skills he’s developed on the pitch being transferred in the rest of his schooling.”
Over the course of the five-week programme, St Mary’s school saw a significant impact on their pupils and an increase in their overall confidence.
Ben Holbrook, a PE teacher at St Mary’s, was impressed with the impact that AITC had on children at the school. He told us: “The pupils really enjoyed taking part in the sessions run by AITC.
“We have seen their teamwork improve and this has translated to lessons.
McKenzie always comes with a smile and is keen to help where he can.
“The outstanding coaching by Hayley has given the GCSE pupils the confidence to run sessions of their own with younger pupils and we now have a number of pupils who are developing as sports leaders.”
For McKenzie though, the sessions have inspired him to get involved with AITC at the charity’s weekend disability football sessions and he has recognised the impact the sessions have had on him.
McKenzie told us: “The football sessions have been really good, and it has been a great way to release any frustrations during the week and finish Friday with something positive.
“I really enjoy learning the skills, working as a team, and supporting the younger pupils, helping them learn and sharing what I have learnt.”
For more information about how AITC can support your SEND school please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.albioninthecommunity.org.uk