From education to employment

Students star in top regional sporting event for young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

140 students from colleges across the North-West gathered in Manchester last Friday to participate in one of the region’s leading sports days for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The event was held in Sportcity and co-hosted by Natspec – the UK’s largest membership organisation for specialist FE colleges – together with local SEND charity Seashell Trust.  The day saw students from age 16-25 competing in a wide array of sports including cricket, lusu, fitness, team building, hurdles, rugby and boccia. Each college was limited to seven participants each, with 40 volunteers helping with the running of the event. To make the event as inclusive as possible, all activities were adapted to student ability levels.

Founded and led by Maureen Wilkins, a tutor at one of Seashell Trust’s colleges’, the Royal College Manchester, the event marked the 12th edition of the games.

Alongside promoting and celebrating the sporting skills of the young people involved, key to the ethos of the day was to celebrate other important skills such as confidence, sportsmanship, commitment and teamwork, with awards for the different areas.

In the lead up to the event students across the eleven colleges taking part were tasked with preparing banners, flags, team chants and dressing to impress in their country colours (full list of participating colleges in the notes for editors).

The sports day followed a series of ‘virtual Natspec Games’ days held earlier in June in partnership with disability charity Sense Active and the Association of Colleges’ sport division.  Activities included daily workouts, netball, boccia, dance, seated volleyball and tennis for the 41 live participants and 3 participating on demand.

The Natspec Games have been held since 2016 and were hosted online only during the pandemic, before returning to having virtual and in-person versions from this year. Other in-person Natspec Games events this year have taken place with Petty Pool Vocational College in Cheshire and Landmarks Specialist College in Sheffield.  The final edition will take place at Linkage College in Lincolnshire on 5 July.

Commenting on the success of the day, Clare Howard, CEO of Natspec, said:

“It was brilliant to see the latest Natspec Games last Friday.

“With our partners Seashell Trust, we wanted to give our remarkable young people the chance to show just what they are capable of with the right confidence, commitment and teamwork.

“All young people with disabilities and learning difficulties deserve the same opportunities as everyone else: to get involved in sports.”

Commenting on leading the event, Maureen Wilkins from Seashell Trust, said:

“It was great to team up with Natspec once again to give young people across the North-West the chance to participate in inclusive sport and to have their value recognised.

“I was so impressed with the attitude and achievements of all participants, and to see the joy and pride on their faces made all the preparation worth it.”

Related Articles