Sports in a special educational needs setting: Yasir’s story

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What are ‘special educational needs’?
Special educational needs (SEN) can be defined as the fact that some people have needs or disabilities that affect their ability to learn. This can include behavioural or social conditions, difficulty with reading and writing or understanding things and concentrating, and physical needs or impairments.

What does a Greenhouse Sports Multisport Coach do?
Our dedicated Multisport Coaches work full time within SEN schools to support the PE curriculum and offer multisport programmes that utilise several approaches, such as conventional sports, adapted sports, physical activities, and appropriate therapies to promote the development of emotional and social skills. Their programmes encourage participants to work towards independence where possible.

For many of our participants, Greenhouse Sports presents the only opportunity they will get to take part in sports or physical activity.

Coach Nick wrote to us to share his success with his programme participants. Nick wanted to celebrate the achievements of Yasir, with whom he used a somewhat unconventional activity to introduce exercise…

“Since I started at my school I have witnessed lots of development in the children I work with. However, one student stands out in particular – Yasir. Yasir is a social and inquisitive boy. I could be at the other end of the corridor and he would still call my name to say ‘Hi’, and check which other children I had been working with that day.

But this was not always the case.

When I first began to work with Yasir, he was extremely reluctant to interact with me. This was because he associated me with exercise and fitness, which he was not particularly fond of.

To introduce him to a healthier lifestyle, his class teacher referred him to me for a fitness session once a week.

But every week, as soon as I walked through the door, he would panic. He didn’t want to exercise. He would cry and scream, begging other classmates to take his place.

It wasn’t an easy start!

I met with his teacher to come up a strategy to earn his trust and introduce him to exercise.

We decided to play some of his favourite YouTube videos and then go for a short walk. Over the coming weeks, this would develop to a jog or a trip to the gym.

This plan worked a treat. The first week, we watched Home Alone 2 on my iPad, and then went for a short walk around the school. He was exercising and he didn’t even know it.

At the same time, we were building a strong relationship where he was beginning to feel more confident talking to me. Now, there are no videos in our fitness sessions.

Our sessions are comprised of a whole 20 minutes of exercise in the school gym, and even include some running on the treadmill.

I am extremely proud of the progress Yasir has made, and I know his class, staff, and parents are just as proud, and slightly mesmerised, at the things he is capable of doing now.”