Learning Disabilities & Autism News

Rugby League and Charity Tackles Discrimination In Schools

The sport of Rugby League is teaming up with one of Britain’s biggest social care charities, Community Integrated Care, to help tackle bullying and discrimination by educating thousands of primary school children across Britain. Their unique new education programme ‘We’re On The Same Team’ aims to build positive attitudes in young people and tackle prejudice before it is formed, responding to a rise in disability hate crime and the negative experiences of people who access care and support.

On The Same Team (www.TheSameTeam.co.uk) has been designed by Community Integrated Care, with people they support, to give young people inspirational lessons about kindness, inclusion, and respect. It offers teachers a comprehensive suite of lesson plans, teaching resources and classroom challenges that build empathy and consideration. With a broad message of inclusion that focusses upon the importance of appreciating the value and humanity of every person, it enables young people to see the best in each other.

At the heart of the campaign is a promotional video featuring participants of the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League – a programme that enables people who have learning disabilities and autism to play the sport that they love.

These players share profound examples of how they have overcome barriers and achieved their dreams, and how it feels to be labelled, judged, or overlooked by others. This also sees Rugby League stars, including St Helens and England forward Jodie Cunningham, explain how in Rugby League and in life, people must believe in and support each other.

This programme has a vital aim. In many communities, disability hate crime and discrimination is increasing. Often, this anti-social behaviour and bullying comes from children. By shaping positive attitudes earlier, the charity and sport aim to shape better futures.

Teachers and schools are invited to register for their free On The Same Team resource pack atwww.TheSameTeam.co.uk. The education is fully aligned to the Key Stage 1 and 2 (primary school years) curriculum, and is also suitable for schools in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The programme was inspired by the lived experience of people supported by Community Integrated Care and participants in their Rugby League partnerships. The charity had seen that several members of its programmes, such as the Learning Disability Super League, had experienced discrimination from young people in their everyday lives. These negative experiences had profoundly impacted their confidence in accessing their community, including avoiding public transport or being out at times when children are leaving school.

The creation of the project was led by people who have lived experience of these difficult issues, who are participating in a special volunteering and personal development programme with the charity and the Rugby League World Cup 2021. Giving these volunteers the chance to share their talents in front of and behind the camera, in producing the film and resources, the programme has offered them an empowering way to develop their skills and make a positive impact on an issue that matters deeply to them.

Participating schools have the opportunity to win a suite of prizes including tickets for rugby league events, signed Rugby League World Cup 2021 merchandise and PE equipment.

On The Same Team is proudly supported by the Rugby League World Cup 2021, Rugby Football League and Super League.

John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care, says: “To live in a society where every person is welcome and valued, it is vital that our young people grow up with kind, compassionate and inclusive attitudes. We are excited by the role that On The Same Team can play in nurturing these beliefs and helping schools to be truly welcoming environments.

This campaign has been purpose designed with teachers to support teachers. It offers a creative, fun, upbeat and exciting way to promote inclusion, where young people can hear from inspirational role models and hear real stories that challenge stereotypes. With the excitement of Rugby League, brilliant prizes, and a truly creative lessons, this is something that every primary school can benefit from.”

Oliver Thomason, who stars in the On The Same Team campaign says: “It makes me sad when people are judged or not supported to fulfil their potential. Because I have a learning disability, sometimes people don’t see my potential. It has been brilliant to share my story in On The Same Team, telling people about the amazing things that I have been able to achieve – like playing at Anfield Stadium in the Learning Disability Super League – because people believed in me. I want to help every child to understand their value in life and to see the best other people too. I know that this programme will help to change lives.”

Jodie Cunningham, St Helens and England Rugby League star, says: “It was an honour to support On The Same Team. Rugby League is a sport that can powerfully represent teamwork, co-operation and inclusion. Every school that delivers this programme will gain so much, giving their young people exciting learning experiences and lessons that they will carry for life. This is the perfect programme for schools to end their year with, ahead of the summer break.”

Edel Harris

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