Image demonstrating SEND Leisure Programme Goes from Strength to Strength 

SEND Leisure Programme Goes from Strength to Strength 

On World Autism Awareness Day (2nd April)  the county council is shining a light on its inclusive leisure programme which offers activities to young people with special educational needs or disabilities. 
Ability2Play is run by the county council’s Sports Development Team which organises school holiday camps and weekly sessions during term time for SEND children and young adults. 
Activities include archery, bowling, cricket, clip n climb, outdoor adventure camps and much more. 
The authority’s Sports Development Team is putting a shout for anyone wishing to take part in the Ability2Play programme to get in touch. It is also looking for volunteers and ambassadors to come forward to help out at sporting events and activities. 

Chris Maddox from Blyth knows all too well the enjoyment that can be had through helping as he has been supporting the Ability2Play sessions for an incredible 15 years. 
Chris has various disabilities including autism, ADHD, dyspraxia and lower body orthopaedic problems but he is clear about the impetus behind his involvement: “I want to put something back,” he said.” The highlight of my involvement is seeing the kids happy and noticing the difference that joining our sessions makes to them.” 
Chris started attending sessions when he was about eight years old.  He admits that initially he lacked confidence and his shyness meant that he was more comfortable sitting in the corner and watching rather than taking part.   However, with the support of the Sports Development staff which also encompassed one-to-one sessions, he gained confidence and began to actively take part.  His enthusiasm grew and in time he also stepped forward to assist in the delivery of activities whenever possible.  
Chris encourages others who are thinking of attending Ability2Play sessions but whom might be unsure about coming along. He said “Come and give it a go.  There are people there to help you and no one will push you to do an activity.  Helpers and staff will focus on making you feel comfortable and helping you to join in.  It is a really friendly environment.”  
Chris’s involvement has also seen him complete an apprenticeship with the Sports Development team and he now holds a several activity qualifications, including archery instruction. Additionally, he has assisted at many events including ‘Bringing the Games’ closer to communities' project and the Kielder Marathon. Chris’s service was recognised when he was awarded a Pride of Northumberland Award, and he continues to support others wherever he can.  
Northumberland County Councillor Jeff Watson, cabinet member for Promoting Healthy Lives said “ 
“Ability2Play is a hugely popular and well attended leisure programme which provides an excellent opportunity for people with different disabilities to try a diverse range of activities in a fun and safe environment. It really is going from strength to strength. 
“A special thank you must go to Chris for his significant contribution to the team over so many years.  His commitment and enthusiasm are always guaranteed and the reassurance and support he provides participants is exceptional.”   
Recently Blyth Town Council made a generous donation of £5,000 toward the programme which will be used to help enhance further the activities on offer. 
Mayor of Blyth Warren Taylor said: “We know the invaluable role the Ability2Play programme plays and how important it is for children and young adults with disability needs in the town and we wanted to pledge a donation to offer our support.” 
To find out more about NCC’s SEND activities, contact Lead Ability2Play Coach, Bayley Milligan at or call 07843 835398
A dedicated Ability2Play Facebook page can also be accessed. Camps run at Blyth Leisure Centre and Cramlington Concordia during most school holidays and a weekly youth club is held at the Family Hub in Ashington on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. 
To express an interest in volunteering with our SEND and mainstream activities and to find out more contact 
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