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Woody Welcomes

  • Writer's pictureNatalie O'Rourke

Woody Welcomes leeds, leeds, leeds!

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Leeds is generally regarded as England's largest one-club city and so the importance of Leeds United to the city is huge. Looking at the work of their Foundation this is reflected, it runs a host of activities in and around the city and supports all kinds of people. Woody's sister Alice was very interested in the female-only summer soccer camps the Club offered to support young girls that wanted to improve and develop their football skills - and this was before the recent European Championships, so go Lionesses!

The Club does much to support their disabled fans including turn up and play sessions for adults and juniors with pan disabilities, sessions for players with wheelchairs and cerebral palsy, and visually impaired juniors. They also support this local organisation Sunshine & Smiles that works as a support network for families in Leeds with a child or young person with Down's Syndrome and their weekly football sessions. Read more about Sunshine & Smiles here


Woody also liked…


The Sensory Room


In recent years all Premier League clubs have made commitments to improving access and facilities for disabled fans which of course we fully support. One of the most impressive things clubs have been doing is starting to provide "Sensory Rooms" for fans who have sensory processing issues that might normally discourage them and their families from attending a match.


More on our room here at the GTech later in the season, but Leeds opened their room in May of this year, and it looks great. It's situated within their South Stand, offers a full and unrestricted view of the pitch, and creates a safe and controlled environment for supporters to watch the game, and also offers a safe option for anyone who may experience issues during a match in offering a quiet space within the grounds of the stadium.





Although it's only a few people that can use these rooms during a match day we cannot emphasise what a huge deal rooms like these are - opening football for those who might otherwise struggle to attend and to allow them to experience the magic of a matchday atmosphere.


to him and the structure of his days, he became so upset his hair started to fall out. So, any ideas that help children with special needs are especially appealing to us, here are two:



Coaching sessions with West SILC


West Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (SILC) is a community special school and Leeds United Foundation have been working with them recently on a coach education and mentoring programme to support young students. Pupils from the school taking part in the initiative have been able to learn about conducting a coaching session, including risk assessments, leading warm-ups and cool-downs and planning a session from start to finish, this is such a great way to help the pupils develop life skills such as communication, resilience, self-esteem and confidence.


Most excitingly the programme is enabling the students to really grow their confidence and taking their new skills back to school and to be able to deliver safe sessions to their fellow students, giving them a real chance that they become community coaches in the future. It's a programme that really helps build employability into their lives. It's only been running a few months, but the school has reported back that the post-16 students doing the course have already been delivering successful sessions back to the younger students and this is raising aspirations across the whole school. Talk about playing it forward!





Penny Field School at Elland Road


This warmed our hearts. The Leeds Foundation has a partnership with a local school called Penny Field which caters for the needs of children with severe and complex needs from the ages of 2 to 19. This partnership had helped Penny Field to raise the funds for a new hydrotherapy centre at the school, but the Club decided to go a little further and so recently organised a visit from some of the youngsters to Elland Road for an exclusive tour.


The youngsters were all greeted in a VIP lounge on arrival, they got to visit the press conference room, the changing rooms and tunnel and then on to the pitch as the Leeds anthem Marching On Together played. But what made it for us is the way in which the Leeds team were so sensitive to the fact that some of the students had complex needs and had gone out of their way to ensure the tour included a number of sensory elements such as letting the youngsters touch and feel previous Leeds Utd kits, having the sound of football boots played through the tunnels, and even being able to smell the grass on the actual pitch - a true sensory tour in every way and one that would create lifetime memories!





Finally...


Woody will be welcoming Leeds United fans to the Gtech Community Stadium tomorrow with particular attention to an extraordinary Leeds fan, Nikki Allan. Nikki was accompanied to matches by her guide dog Rita before Rita retired back in 2019 after supporting Nikki at matches since 2011. Rita gave Nikki the opportunity to attend matches at Elland Road and make some special memories that Nikki treasures. The Leeds fans love Nikki and Woody is looking forward to giving her a big hug.





Welcome Leeds United! x


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