Mark’s determination to include all types of learners in his sports classes led him to establish England’s first mixed ability rugby team, and inspire many more across the country.
Under the inclusive model, players with learning difficulties and physical disabilities play full contact rugby alongside their able-bodied peers.
Mark was inspired to create a mixed ability rugby team in 2009, after hearing the frustrations of a local student with cerebral palsy – his local rugby club would only allow him to be the water boy.
With the support of the WEA, Mark established up the Bumble Bees RFC mixed ability team; the first of its kind in England. The team now has more than 40 registered players.
Through the WEA’s ‘Inclusion in Rugby’ classes, which are co-produced and co-delivered by learners, Mark promotes the mixed ability model both locally and nationally and facilitates the creation of new mixed ability clubs. Thanks to Mark and his supporters, mixed ability rugby is now recognised by England Rugby.
Following on from this success, Mark will launch a new course – ‘Inclusion in Sports’ – which will open up a wide range of sports to people with disabilities.
“It’s been a privilege to see first-hand people who were previously dis-empowered gain new skills, confidently deliver presentations and share their positive experiences with others”, says Mark.
Team member, Martin, says: “Being a mixed ability rugby player makes me feel more independent, has improved my life, and made me a better person”.
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