Tri Camp Team Mate Dates
A story by Tri Camp Team Mate Dates
Our project used rugby as a vehicle, through Team Mate Dates to equip young people with additional support need with key life skills and helped with their personal development and giving them confidence to meet new people.
A big part of Team Mate Dates is the fact that the young people play rugby, train regularly and socialise with a diverse group of people, which contributes to reducing inequalities within the team and the wider community.
The project promoted integration, social connectedness and activity opportunities that will support future career development and workability by bringing together the different teams that Trust Rugby International have established to date in the West and East of Scotland, Ayrshire Clan, Edinburgh Clan, Glasgow Clan and young people at the transition age (16-20 year old) in Additional Support Needs Schools. They became integrated within a mainstream sport and social activity with the potential of future employment.
What Tri Camp Team Mate Dates did
We have delivered (8) Team Mate Dates throughout Ayrshire, Edinburgh and Glasgow. We approached some young people within the schools setting to train, play and integrate with our regional Clan sessions. This initially was to allow the young people to gain an understanding of what is available outwith the school term time, provide opportunities for the young people to be more involved within a community setting and also to bridge the gap at the transition stage.
The team mate dates consisted of:- Limerick trip – In June 2016, we took 28 young people for a weekend in Limerick to attend the Wooden Spoon International Tag Rugby Festival. This also included a training rugby session at Garryowen Rugby Club and provided an opportunity to meet and greet some of the international participants prior to the festival.
Tri Climbing – We organised two climbing trips; one in December 2016 which had 26 people aged between 16-20 years and another trip in March 2017 of which 16 additional young people attended (42 young people in total). The trips took place at the Glasgow Climbing Centre. The climbing trips provided an opportunity for the young people to use their new skills that they have learned within the rugby sessions and transfer these skills into a different and new environment.
Tri Camping – We delivered one camping trip to Lapwing Lodge in Renfrewshire in February 2017. There was a total of 20 young people that attended the overnight trip. We had also organised another weekend trip at the end of March but unfortunately this was postponed due to circumstances at the lodgings that was outwith our control. However, whilst we had hoped this would take place at end of April/beginning of May it actually took place in mid June. The trips brought together a mix of young people with and without learning disabilities to experience a rugby tour so that it would prepare them for future tours and equip them with the necessary skills to be able to live independently for a short time without their parents and carers.
By using rugby as a vehicle, the Team MateDates equip our young people with key life skills and helped with their personal development into their day to day lives helping them even with just the confidence to meet new people. A big part of Team MateDates is the fact that the young people play rugby, train regularly and socialise with a diverse group of people, which contributes to reducing inequalities within the team and the wider community. Now that the young people are attending more often we are seeing a real growth with confidence levels, as they will talk to the other group members willingly without being prompted and have a laugh with them.
We have seen an increase in confidence with some of the young players assisting with the less able players. They are more aware of their social surroundings and situations by identifying that they may not have had the ball as much as everybody else, so they are making sure that they pass or support them to get the ball and be more involved in the games. We have seen this develop further on some of our trips, as with the players that are attend Clan training, they are more likely to step up and support others in their class, for example, with the climbing trip you could see the players encouraging and supporting the rest of the group more often and ‘looking out for each other’.
The young people truly supported one another on the day of the Climbing and it was great to see the interaction and camaraderie between everyone. An example of this was that in the morning of the climbing trip Stephen was scared and worried about the climbing session, he was apprehensive about the size of the wall, and having a fear of heights did not help with anxiety levels. One of the young Clan players took it upon himself to 'buddy' up with Stephen to give encouragement and support to him during the trip and Stephen went from turning up at the Climbing Centre not wanting to participate and just sitting with the teachers, to climbing over the halfway point on the wall.
There are more examples of this on other trips we had done but it was great to see Stephen climbing the wall after saying in the morning he was not even going to give it a go.
Gavin is a parent and also a player with the Clan, and has encouraged his stepson, who has a disability, to join TeamMate Date sessions. In the beginning stage, Gavin spoke with the TRI coach to provide an insight into how joining the rugby sessions have improved his own health and well being, stress relieve, time to switch off from family life, provided him time to process life commitments and provide time to put into perspective a work life balance. He has know taking some of his own positive thought processes and translated into developing this relationship into family life and in particular with his stepson. Gavin is now volunteering with TRI and is about to embark on undertaking his UKCC level rugby coaching to further develop himself.
Below is a statement from Gavin on how this programme has helped him and his relationship with his stepson:
“Over the initial couple of years, I was not able to offer a lot of time due to job commitments and family commitments. However, it was obvious to me the impact TRI was having and the value of rugby for all. I enjoyed being part of something that was having such a positive influence on my life and the lives of those who would otherwise struggle socially and with life in general. In 2016, my wife and I made a decision that I would leave my current job as a car salesman and change it for a 9-5 Monday-Friday job with a better work/life balance.
Part of the reason for this decision was because I wanted to be more involved with TRI. Shortly after TRI started to go into Stanecastle School which my son, Cameron, attends. Cameron and his friend started to come to training with me last year, now I have a car full!!!”
“I have seen a fantastic change in Cameron. His confidence has grown more than my wife or I could have wished for, he is outgoing, bubbly and more confident than he has ever been. I am seeing him grow before me. His school have said that they have seen a big change in Cameron too. Our involvement with Trust Rugby has brought Cameron and I closer to a point that our relationship is the best it’s ever been. I am thankful to Stephen and Ryan for all their hard work at Stanecastle and on a Monday night with Cameron, TRI is one of only two activities away from school that he has stuck with. I am proud to be part of the Trust Rugby family”.
What were you nervous about before Stephen went on a trip?
“The whole experience, the first time he’s went away from me, he puts himself in dangerous situations, he wonders. He has ADHD, so his behaviour can expire to good levels and to bad levels, but there is usually warning signals for that. When he goes very quiet that’s when you know something isn’t quite right”.
“I’ll be a lot more relaxed next time, because I know that he is with a group of people that he feels safe with, he’s grown up slightly, he’s a lot more confident, I will still worry, but I know he will be a lot more safe”.
“It took a little bit of pressure off knowing there was carers there, as they were qualified to deal with situations that Stephen maybe got himself into - that was a little reassuring. It’s more about the first time he’s been away miles and miles from me where I cannot contact or speak to him. He’s always went to my mums ever since he was a baby and that’s the only person he’s ever stayed with, so that was my biggest worry because there was no family present, so I might not know if he was in danger or things like that”.
“He goes through obsessions, he will want to do things that only last for a while, whereas with the rugby, he has done it since he was 16 and now he’s 19 and I don’t think he’s ever missed a session. He’s a completely different boy, where at home he will just be quiet but seeing him at the rugby and him coming back from the trip and hearing about, there’s just so much passion in him and I’m proud of him. I never thought he would be able to go out and do something like this and neither did he and now that he’s had this opportunity, he loves it and I’m going to push him all the way”.
“I think its because he’s accepted for the way he is, because of his condition he does look a bit different to others and a lot of other clubs won’t touch him because of his condition. The fact that the rugby team does all of this, he feels that he can do something, even though he’s got disabilities, he’s always thought he’ll never be able to do this or that and the fact that he’s doing rugby it’s making him grow into a better person and it’s good to see the change”.
“I’ve been to see a couple of matches and his training and seeing him get right involved. He’s come so far, I’ve never been able to see Stephen grow up and become an adult, and now that he’s 19 he’s at college, he’s doing rugby, he’s out cycling his bike, he’s asked for a weights bench. To see him do all of these ‘normal’ things, it’s a blessing, I’m really glad. He’s a miracle, I’m so proud of him”.
“The whole experience for him, going away and being with boys, because at home it’s just me and his sister, so he’s out numbered by girls. Seeing him being part of a group of boys that of all have a good interest, they don’t pick on each other, for him to be in a group of other people and be accepted has made him a different boy, he’s so much more confident. I can’t wait for him to go back, that’s all he’s spoke about, you can hear the passion in him. I’ve never seen Stephen be so passionate about something and I’m proud of him”.
“Trying to be one of the lads, he loved the sight seeing he’d done, he mentioned about crossing the roads, because at home he doesn’t look, he relies on me and just to hear the fact that he actually thought of safety and danger for once instead of thinking I need to cross the road and go, where he actually looked and listened to rules because he isn’t one for rules. He loved it, and I love hearing him being so happy about the whole experience, it made me a lot more relaxed and prepared for if he ever went again, he’s dying to go, he loved it”.
“He’s getting so responsible and talking a lot more, it is hard not having a male role model in your life, especially if you have two girls living with you. There is certain things he does miss out on, but him going to the rugby and being with men has opened him up a bit because he now knows that if there is anything he needs or wants he knows to go to the guys - that’s good because it takes pressure off of me wondering if I’m doing the right thing boy wise, because I don’t really know what goes on in boys heads! It’s great to see he’s found people he enjoys spending time with and talking to and feels he’s got a male circle of friends now - he will always come back to mummy (chuckle), but seeing him feel comfortable and being a man, instead of not knowing what to do, its great. He’s come along much better since he started with the rugby and I can’t believe it”.
What Tri Camp Team Mate Dates has learnedWhat we have learned this year is that things don’t always go accordingly to plan, especially when it comes to things like boilers breaking down on our last camping trip in the accommodation 24 hours before leaving, which was out of our hands, but how we reacted to this can make a big difference to our parents and young people. When this happened to us back in March, we contacted the parents and carers as soon as possible to inform them of the situation.
This early call helped make a decision on whether we should just cancel the trip or to still go ahead. Whilst this situation had a negative impact, it did have a positive element in that it helped us to work closer with the parents/carers and young people to reassure them that the camp would still go ahead at a later date. Whilst we heard disappointment in their voices and facial expressions, we worked in conjunction with parents/carers and the young people to set a new date for the camp in June – happy faces resumed!
Building and spreading the work of the programme is key and we are gradually seeing an increase on the support networks for the young people coming along to see what it’s all about. This also gives TRI the opportunity to find out more about the wider determinants that can impact on their lifestyles and understand some of the challenges they face each day.