At Leeds Rhinos Foundation, disability inclusion has always been important to us and as we continue our vital work in the local community to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to engage in sporting activities, reach their full potential and enjoy life-changing experiences.
Learning Disability Week is taking place this year from 20 to 24 June and aims to improve the quality of life for those with learning disabilities by raising awareness about important issues and fighting stigma and discrimination.
The theme of this year’s event, which is organised annually by Mencap, is to show how people with a learning disability are reconnecting with friends and their communities. To mark the celebrations, we spoke with our Disability Coordinator Ed Bates to find out some of the fantastic work Leeds Rhinos Foundation is doing to support people with disabilities and the power of working in partnership with social care providers Aspire CBS and Community Integrated Care to change lives through sport.
Through our Aspire partnership we are delighted to work with many amazing people who are members of the LD community, delivering inclusive sports sessions every week within their community bases across the city. This year, we also launched our first ever Aspire Try Club programme for the people who access their services. This groundbreaking initiative has adapted key messages from the Foundation’s popular weight management programme to support adults with learning disabilities by providing an accessible approach to helping them learn more about nutrition and understand the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise.
COMMUNITY INTEGRATED CARE
Our work with Community Integrated Care, one of Britain’s largest social care charities, has now gone nationwide through our free online accessible activities on the ‘What To Do’ website. The foundation run 3 weekly online sessions (Dance, Chair-Based Exercise and PE sessions) which enables people to engage in physical activity and enjoy exciting experiences in the comfort of their own home. This has even included the chance to take part in online dance classes and meet Strictly Come Dancing icons Ian Waite and Vincent Simmone. The success of the online sessions has also seen the return of face-to-face sessions following the coronavirus pandemic, with a weekly social club being launched for service users of Community Integrated Care. These sessions take place within Headingley stadium and provide an extra opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to participate in some fun physical sports whilst socialising with other members of the community at the home of the Rhinos.
Specialist schools and provisions (SILCs)
This year has seen the Foundation return to working in SILCs, delivering physical activity sessions and sports games for hundreds of school children across Leeds each week. As well as continuing the long-standing partnership with Green Meadows, the past academic year has also seen pupils from the John Jamieson and Roger Cannon learning sites engage in physical education sessions delivered by the charity.
Learning Disability Rugby League
The Leeds Rhinos Learning Disability Super League (LDSL) team was launched by the Foundation four years ago to enable those with learning disabilities to enjoy the game of rugby league. Our team provides opportunities for those with learning disabilities to come and participate in some fun, social Tag Rugby sessions whilst also getting the chance to represent Leeds Rhinos in the Learning Disability Super League, with matches played against various other clubs from across the country. As well as the obvious health benefits, playing in the LDSL team has helped our players to forge lifelong friendships and enjoy some truly unforgettable experiences playing the game they love. The emphasis in LDRL is on enjoyment, it is generally non-competitive and completely inclusive. The activities are delivered with a view to developing the participants skills and confidence while providing new challenges and opportunities to achieve their sporting dreams. Our team has continually grown over the years since its creation in 2019 with a record number of players currently involved, and we are very excited to be taking part in the upcoming festival at Super League’s Magic Weekend in Newcastle.
Support Our Work
You can support the incredible work Leeds Rhinos Foundation does in the community to support people with disabilities by supporting the Run With The Rhinos team taking part in the Run for All Leeds 10k on Sunday 3rd July.
This annual run is the flagship fundraising event to support Leeds Rhinos Foundation and its work to support adults and children throughout the Leeds community, with Leeds Rhinos Head Coach Rohan Smith joining staff, legends and supporters for the 10k race to raise vital funds towards the charity’s many community projects and teams.
CLICK HERE to show your support by donating to our 2022 Run With The Rhinos team.