Waysiders Drumpellier increase inclusivity with ASD awareness seminar

A Coatbridge rugby club has taken the first steps to becoming more inclusive as their coaching team joined with a local autism charity to better understand how to support players.

Waysiders Drumpellier became aware that their growing youth set-up included a number of children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and contacted HOPE for Autism to help improve experiences for everyone at the club.

Twelve members of the coaching and management team attended a three-hour course hosted at the team’s clubhouse, which will be followed up with another session in the new year.

Club President, Chris McGuigan, said: “We’re a community-based sports club that thrives on members and players feeling part of something bigger.

“The more people who feel that, the more people will continue to be involved, both volunteers and players. If we have players playing the game, we have a future in the sport.

“The key message for me, was that inclusion isn’t about individuals and making specific changes to accommodate them but about upping your game and improving the delivery for everyone.”

The club is now in the process of implementing more structured session plans so children and adults know what to expect at the club.

Leanne McNeill, Lead Coordinator at Hope for Autism, said: “At HOPE for Autism we are passionate about raising awareness of autism across North Lanarkshire; schools, clubs and across the whole community.

“It was fantastic to receive a call from Waysiders Drumpellier to come out and deliver our Introduction to Autism training session to the coaches.

They have asked that we work closely together and visit again in the New Year to see how the training has helped. This is a great start to making sports more inclusive for children and young people of all abilities.”

Waysiders Drumpellier will host a practical delivery session for the whole coaching team in January.

Scottish Rugby Outreach and Equality Manager, Pete Young, said: “It is very encouraging to see a club like Waysiders taking such a proactive approach to developing their club.

“They identified an area where they needed help and have gone out and created links with a local charity to access additional support and training for their members, which will better equip them to encourage and work with young participants with ASD.

“This is an excellent example of good practice that we hope will encourage other clubs to make connections with local groups in their own community to assist them in upskilling club members to accommodate more participants in our game.”