Wednesday 02 April 2014
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, when autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.
Premier League clubs have long helped children with learning difficulties in their community with football courses that help to build confidence as well as promote health through exercise.
Through its Football for All programme, Newcastle United Foundation brings the game to the local community, using the power of the club and their players to drive engagement.
"It's great to have the support of the players, who really value their time with us"
Kate Bradley - Newcastle United Foundation
The programme is active across 42 special-educational-needs schools in the North East and benefits 600 children, each with disabilities including visual impairments, Down's syndrome, cerebral palsy and other learning challenges. The schools programme is funded by family-run business Kids 1st Nurseries and is run by Foundation coaches.
Last month schoolchildren at the end of their 10-week programme were rewarded for their efforts with a surprise visit from the club's top scorer, Loic Remy. The France striker dropped in to Benton Dene School, joining in the session and distributing medals to pupils aged 10-11, each with complex learning difficulties or autism.
The children also attended Newcastle's Barclays Premier League fixture with Crystal Palace, giving them further opportunities to enjoy the game.
"Football for All is a flagship scheme for us and the benefits for children are immense," Kate Bradley, head of Newcastle United Foundation, said. "As well as increasing their mobility and coordination through football, we have also seen a notable improvement in participants' confidence, basic skills in sharing, communicating, decision making, listening and following rules.
"It's great to have the support of the players, who really value their time with us. The reaction from children is always fantastic and we'd like to thank Loic for sharing his time with them."