MORE than 50 children from two of the Society's Teesside schools came together for a very special sports day to mark the end of term. 

Pupils from the Mackenzie Thorpe Centre, in South Bank, and Kiora Hall, in Stockton-on-Tees - which are operated by the North East Autism Society (NEAS) - took part in the inclusive event at Middlesbrough Sports Village on Thursday (July 13th).

A circuit of seven events was set up, with pupils encouraged to take part in whatever they felt comfortable with. The events were: foam javelin throwing, bean bag shot put, 100-metre sprint, 100-metre hurdles, triple jump, long jump and a 400-metre relay race using sensory circles as batons.

Tracey Train, Principal of both schools, explained that the event was the first time many of the pupils had taken part in a sports day, as they may have found mainstream school events overwhelming or dysregulating.

“A lot of our young people won’t have been able to participate in anything like this before,” Tracey said. “So it was more about creating a positive experience for them.

We didn’t focus on the competitive element, it was all about taking part. So everyone received a participation medal, and there were no winners or losers.

The event, which was carefully planned to consider the sensory needs of the pupils who are all autistic and/or neurodivergent, was organised by teaching assistant Maisie Canterdale, from the Mackenzie Thorpe Centre.

“I have a sporting background as I compete in regional and national netball tournaments,” Maisie said. “I wanted to support the pupils with my experience in sport and thought that a sports day event would be ideal.

I think every school should have a sports day and I wanted to ensure that our pupils were offered the same experiences as children in mainstream schools.

As well as the traditional Olympic-inspired events, Maisie also set up a sensory corner where pupils could enjoy some time out, as well as an obstacle course for anyone who wanted to do something at their own pace. While children from the Mackenzie Thorpe Centre also spent time baking snacks for their classmates to enjoy on the day.

“The whole day was an incredible success," Mark Ellison, Vice Principal at Kiora Hall, added. "All of the pupils enjoyed taking part in the different events - and some of the staff even got involved.

"The pupils really got into the spirit of the sports day, cheering each other on and supporting their classmates. The atmosphere was brilliant."

Funds raised by generous Teessiders were also used to buy commemorative t-shirts for the children who took part in the event, after NEAS was selected as the chosen charity for the inaugural Tees Business Awards event, which took place in May.

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