Finding a game for Robert

Robert never thought P.E. was for him. Sport led to frustration; an environment where he would struggle to fit in. Then Chance to Shine came to Stanningley Primary.

“At first he wouldn’t speak to me at all,” says Yorkshire Cricket Board coach Jamie Sykes, “In those initial sessions he would struggle to engage and it was clear he had problems with hand-eye coordination. He needed constant attention to help him through.”

It was a situation that school P.E. lead Tammy Stott-Moore was all too familiar with.

“Robert has been diagnosed with ADHD and autism. Traditionally he has struggled to work in a group and found lessons such as P.E. extremely difficult. He would find it very tough to express his feelings and would get very upset if he was asked to do something he felt uncomfortable with. He preferred to work on his own, where he could follow his own agenda.”

Determined to ensure that Robert didn’t feel side-lined, Jamie started to adjust his sessions to ensure the eight-year-old was fully included.

“We introduced bigger balls and allowed Jamie to hit them off tees with the bat,” he says. “I’d keep a close eye on him and there were a group of classmates who made sure they encouraged him and gave him support. It wasn’t long until you could see his confidence growing and he was chatting away to the other children in his team.” Those around Robert noted that his attitude to sport was changing. He even asked if he could play cricket in an after-school club.

“He began to take more of an interest in P.E. in general,” says Year 3 teacher, Adrian Harrington. “He enjoyed taking part and didn’t seem to be as frustrated if things didn’t go his way. I remember being surprised at how his accuracy was improving, and when he asked to join the after-school sessions…well that’s something I would never have expected to see before.”

After seeing Stanningley’s pupils fully embrace their cricket sessions, Chance to Shine returned to the school in 2022. No prizes for guessing which pupil was at the front of the queue.

“I don’t have to coach him where to stand or how to hold a bat,” Jamie says, “he doesn’t even need my rubbish jokes anymore – there’s always a smile on his face!”

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