Inclusion means everything

20th July 2007 at 01:00
Three years ago, Lee Smith, Stephen Hill, and twins Ben and Angus John-stone wanted to make it easier for their wheelchair-bound friend Jamie McCowan (left) to take part in sport with them. They wanted to ensure that Jamie and others with special needs could be included in everything.

Janice Watson, their headteacher at Dundonald Primary in South Ayrshire, explains: "They looked at a problem and worked out a solution. Their aim was to include all children in physical education as part of the curriculum. They also wanted to ensure that as many schools as possible shared their vision. They worked together to change attitudes to inclusion."

Jamie was the catalyst for the formation of the inclusion squad and is at the heart of it. The boys approached sports development officers for advice on how to adapt PE lessons to include him. This led to the introduction of boccia (a specially adapted form of bowls), new age curling, and target golf. Jamie is the football team goalie.

From there, the five-strong squad trained the other pupils in the school from P1-7 in these games. Although Jamie is the only pupil with a physical disability he suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy autistic pupils in the school found the small group activities helped them to participate more easily.

They also organised an alternative sports day, supported child- ren taking part in the Ayrshire Special Games, and encouraged pupils to attend.

The boys have even identified the next inclusion squad to succeed them at Dundonald. Their ideas will be spread to other schools next year, once their sports development officer, Colin Duffie, returns to work after an accident.

"Other schools say they are inclusive but, if they looked at the activities they were providing, they would realise they are not always inclusive," says Mrs Watson.

"Not many schools would allow a child in a wheelchair to be a goalie, but it's an amazing thing. Our kids don't seem to mind. At the end of term, he was chosen to be part of the team to go down to Struthers tournament. He's not a great goalie, but they still want him because they are a nice, caring lot of children."

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