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A Year in Inclusive Sports Academy

2021 has been a pretty hard year for everyone, including us! But we want to share with you our highlights and our favourite feedback from you all.

What a year it has been for Inclusive Sports! For someone who has only been here for the last seven months of it, there has been so much that’s happened I’m pretty sure that we could turn it into a two-blog spectacular! But in all seriousness, it’s been such a fantastic year- and we would love to share all of our favourite moments with you. So, after hot desking for a good few months and not really having any permanent place to call Inclusive Sports’ home, we finally made the move to Three Trees Community Centre. A hub of multiple fantastic CICS in the Solihull area, it’s the perfect location to get us started and network! Welcoming us with open arms, we would love to take the opportunity to the team for being so hospitable! This has given us a safe location for us to not only hold plenty of our sessions- but also create an office space for us to grow our internal office team. We have also hired so many new team members this year, including Ci from Heart of Birmingham college who is now our Apprentice Junior Content Producer. He not only helps behind the scenes, but also delivers sessions throughout the week and is certainly one of the stars of our social media with his Makaton demonstrations. We also hired… me! Fresh out of university with a journalism degree I didn’t really have a clue what to do with, I am now the Digital Marketing Manager of Inclusive Sports and I would like to think I’ve made our social media a much more vibrant, exciting place. I couldn't have asked for a more relaxed, informative post grad job- so I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Andy for the opportunity. Not to mention a new business admin Olivia, ensuring all of the behind the scenes filing is up to date and organised. Last but certainly not least we have hired the fabulous Kat O’Donovan who has years of experience in the disability field and has also brought with her several different projects she has lead on- some of which have already turned into some of our most successful! We don’t have an employee of the year award, but we’re pretty sure if we did Kat would be the one taking the prize home. This leads onto… what projects have we introduced? Our most popular would be our Inclusive Families sessions which is allowing parents and carers across Solihull to gain an outlet to spend time with their loved one. Our gaming and youth night has also been a hit! Giving children and young people a youth group to take part in virtual games through consoles such as the Wii and Nintendo Switch as well as the classic board games it has given them the opportunity to not only make friends but to also gain a space where they can socialise. Our partner business Inclusive Educate has also massively taken off in the past year or so. With a number of different sessions and workshops catered to make work-spaces more inclusive and accessible to disability audiences by up-skilling their workers, we have had a number of people very interested! The courses range from youth mental health first aid training which will give you a better understanding of how to handle an individual in the middle of a mental crisis- so many people are trained in first aid, but so little know how to react when the issue is mental. As well as this there are plenty of teachings surrounding Inclusive Activities such as boccia, archery and curling that you can introduce at your groups and clubs, and how to make them accessible in different ways to people with all sorts of different levels of ability. If you yourself run some sort of club or group and feel as though you would benefit from this, or you are looking to even upskill yourself in the role of parent or carer then please get in touch and we would absolutely love for you to get involved. Another very important new project we have also started to run is the Dads Need 2 Talk group funded by and held at Three Trees. As you may know there is a huge stigma surrounding men and mental health, with many feeling demasculinised when they reach out or as though they are failing whenever they decide to ask for help. We have created an outlet for those in similar situations to socialise and converse in an environment with likeminded people. This is to let them know that not only are they not alone, but their feelings are also valid and should be talked about, as well as plenty other people are in the same boat! It isn't wrong for men to want help, it's wrong for people to think that they can't. We have also managed to keep running several of our other successful groups that we had pre-pandemic, that are still going strong despite some of the odds we have faced in 2021. Some of these are our Community Well Group and Bowls, Biscuits and Coffee tailored to vulnerable older people in the area. Also delivering sessions at residential homes, schools and still a couple over zoom! Of course, our camps throughout the year have also been a hit. We started with a 5 week-long summer programme that entailed three days of fun as well as a random trip out somewhere to break the week up. Through this we have had so many new people come along- and so many positive reviews! It was so successful in fact that we decided to run two more! First, a Halloween one day party for children to come and enjoy a safe and inclusive area where they could enjoy the Halloween festivities in a monitored environment. There were costume competitions, Tik Tok dances, sensory play… they had a ball! Of course, also we just wrapped up our three-day Christmas camp last week consisting of two trips to Winter Funland and Cadbury World as well as an amazing Christmas Party with a visit from Santa himself! Merlin’s magic wand even very generously donated money to us so that we could take everyone out on a trip to Alton Towers that also went down an absolute storm. From our survey that we carried out this month (thank you so much if you managed to give us some of your feedback!) we know that Holiday Camps and trips out is one of your favourite aspects of our service. If we're being honest- it may be one of ours too! Speaking of our surveys- we have listened, and we were overwhelmed at how positive it was! A whopping 82% agreed that we have helped you or your loved one in some capacity (We want words with that 18%...) and a startling 94% would ‘strongly recommend’ us no matter what session is being held. We learned that one of your favourite activities is archery, and that we should maybe stop with the karaoke and quizzes- you aren’t as big of a fan as we are! Gaining feedback such as this is a massive help as it lets us grow within our sessions and also tailor our services to suit you best. We can promise that there will be a huge change in 2021 for the better, and that there will never be a single Inclusive Sports session you don’t enjoy. (Yep- still talking to you 18%) Here are a few of our favourite quotes from you wonderful lot from our survey and your thoughts on how it has gone this year: “My daughter always asks when she can go next she enjoys it so much. The chance to be herself with others she feels comfortable around is invaluable.” “Inclusive Sports has given my son the independence and the confidence he has never had the opportunity before to have.” “As a parent I’m grateful for knowing that when my daughter is in your care, she is very safe! Thank you all for what you do for her.” “We think Inclusive Sports is amazing and without them our son wouldn’t be the happy lad he is today!” “The whole team at Inclusive Sports has been somewhat amazing. Their dedication to all the children is incredible. My son has become a happier person, and this is all because he has been given the opportunity to do normal things. This is the only holiday club he has ever been able to attend given his physical abilities. Thanks to all involved.” We had so much wonderful feedback that we could probably do a whole blog dedicated- but thank you to everyone who had their say and let us know if we used your comments! There will be an introduction of an array of new and innovative projects in the new year, all that we will be hinting towards in future blogs and posts in early 2022. We hope you keep a watchful eye out and step forward in getting involved! We are also in the process of reshaping our service offer to become more tailored to children and young people- and stepping away from particular projects to start up new ones that we feel would benefit a wider audience. We have gained members of our team, lost some and overall we believe that although there were numerous challenges we have overcome them all. We have come out of 2021 better and stronger and we know we will be able to smash 2022! What were your defining moments of 2021? Any favourite memories you have with us? Let us know any achievement, big or small- we’d love to hear it!

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