During National Inclusion Week, we catch up with the Foundation’s Disability and Inclusion Co-ordinator, Matt Pilkington, who was recently nominated as Disability Coach of the Year at the Manchester FA Awards.
Here, Matt talks us through the opportunities the Foundation provides for disabled young people in Greater Manchester.
What does your role entail and can you tell us more about some of the disability sport programmes that the Foundation delivers?
I oversee our work in two of our eight partner SEND schools and our evening community programmes. That includes two Inclusive Street Reds sessions, our powerchair sessions, and the Ability Counts PAN-disability programme, which is based at The Cliff and funded by MUDSA.
How does the Foundation meet the needs of young people with such a wide variety of disabilities?
In our partner schools, we cater our approach to best impact the needs of each school. That might include interventions such as rebound therapy, which is a trampoline-based exercise, or more bespoke delivery like we have at the Manchester Hospital School, working with young people on the ward so they’re still accessing education and physical activity. Another example is at our Ability Counts sessions, where we work with Mind to help the young people understand their emotions.
What are the benefits of having disabled and non-disabled young people coming together as one?
We want to break down some of the barriers that young people may face in society. We want the young people to come together and make friends, regardless of whether they have a disability. It shows the young people that when they go out and play, there are no differences between them, and that anything is possible.
Across our programmes, we’re helping our participants to develop as people and become more aware and understanding of other people’s disabilities.
What other opportunities do our participants get from being connected to the Foundation, and how does that impact them?
Some of the young people from our partner SEND schools recently visited Basel, Switzerland, for a five-day special youth camp in the summer, organised by the Scort Foundation in collaboration with Football Club Social Alliance (FCSA). It was such an amazing opportunity for them to develop, experience a new environment and take part in cultural and sporting activities with other young people.
We’ve also seen our young people play in tournaments across the country and at Old Trafford, our participants have played on the pitch at adidas’ pitch day earlier this summer and regularly access match tickets. We can also signpost players to the England Talent Pathway and recently saw Ability Counts player Jayden represent England in the Cerebral Palsy World Cup.