The Next Generation of Volunteers

Posted on 15th Mar 2023 in

Shaping kind, confident individuals, who want to make the world a better place, is at the heart of an ESMS education. It’s instilled in our teaching ethos and our curriculum, and you can see evidence of it embedded in the fabric of our three Schools. So, when Jason Conlin, VP of Stewart’s Melville RFC, approached Caroline Maclean, PE teacher at MES, about collaborating on a Community Sports Programme for children with special needs, she knew it was an initiative our students would want to get behind. 

The events, hosted at The Mary Erskine School, give children, who are often excluded from organised sports, the chance to enjoy fun sports activities. Jason explains:

“Having a disability shouldn’t bar a child from enjoying sport. A community club should have a broader remit, to provide for society, and the aim of this programme is to let the children be a part of something that everyone else is a part of.”  

The idea was born when Jason was living and working in Hong Kong. Having set up a successful programme overseas, Jason knew he wanted to provide the same opportunities on his return to Edinburgh. Children and parents are invited along for a full morning of sporting activities. Crucially, sports are not changed but simply adapted. It’s an inclusive approach to working with children with disabilities, the goal being that everyone feels part of a team. Everyone wears the same shirt, the same colours, and plays the same sports. Parents can join in if they want, and everyone tucks into a hearty lunch at the end of the morning.  

One of the key success factors of the programme according to Jason is that the children are being taught by school students, and not by adults:

“The ESMS students all attended Scottish Disability Sports training, allowing them to organise and run the day. They are the ones in charge, instructing and engaging with the children. It takes these events to a different level. 

“What’s more, the students can go on to volunteer at other events and locations, such as The Yard. Eight of the students ran Christmas parties this past year thanks to the Sports Leadership Programme. It’s about building the next generation of volunteers, inspiring these children to go out into the world and help.” 

The joy of these events is not lost on our students either. Lauren K, and Rachel A are keen participants, and want to share their love of sport with others. Lauren comments:

“One experience that stood out for us was when Rachel noticed a young boy who was clearly nervous and overwhelmed with his surroundings, so she took the initiative and introduced herself and supported him in finding a sport he would enjoy. By the end of the day, the boy had tried the wide variety of available sports and made several new friends whilst doing so. The change in his confidence was evident, which was heart-warming for all to see.” 

With the next event planned for June, ESMS is already working closely with Jason on a much fuller programme for next year. Jason adds:

“This wouldn’t be possible without the goodwill of our corporate sponsors and wider organisations. We've already got Cricket Scotland on board and are speaking to Sport Scotland. By collaborating and sharing resources we can create fun and engaging multi-sport days that everyone can enjoy.” 

A final very special thank you goes to MES teacher, Caroline Maclean, who’s heading up the Leadership Through Sport Programme, and working closely with Jason to bring these inspiring events to life. Miss Maclean adds:

“We feel privileged to be contributing to this wonderful programme and helping to provide more disability sport opportunities in our community.  We really cannot wait for the next Community Sport Initiative event in the summer term – which will hopefully be outside, in the grounds, at The Mary Erskine School, in the Scottish sunshine!” 

To find out more about the June event please visit Stewart's Melville Rugby.

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