The social care sector will be in a league of its own this month, when the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League launches at Rugby League’s world-famous Dacia Magic Weekend event.
In February, it was announced that one of Britain’s biggest and most successful charities, Community Integrated Care, had partnered with the Rugby Football League (RFL) and Super League to become the Official Social Care Partner of the sport. At the heart of this collaboration was a commitment to create a ground-breaking inclusive sports programme for people with learning disabilities and autism - The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League.
The programme gives people with learning disabilities the opportunity to play an adapted version of Rugby League, in a series of high-profile festivals and events. It aims to promote the development of skills, confidence and positive experiences for people with learning disabilities, and make a major statement about social inclusion. This world-first initiative is the first ever example of a professional sports league sharing its brand with a learning disability sports programme.
The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League launches at one of the sport’s biggest events, the Dacia Magic Weekend, which takes place at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, on the 25th and 26th May.
The inclusive competition has been supported by 12 founder clubs, who have established or will be developing Learning Disability Rugby League teams: Castleford Tigers, Huddersfield Giants, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, Newcastle Thunder, Salford Red Devils, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings, Wigan Warriors and York City Knights.
Learning Disability Rugby League is a specially adapted non-competitive game, which focuses on encouraging participation and skills development. To support the success of this programme, Community Integrated Care is providing a programme specialist training to all participating clubs, as well as direct investment into the sport.
In recent weeks, the charity has supported the coaches from each club’s charitable foundation to develop a base understanding of supporting individuals who have learning disabilities and autism, including utilising an Autism Experience Simulator. It is hoped that support of this nature will enable rugby league to break new barriers in its commitment to inclusivity.
The charity is also working with clubs across the sport to develop bespoke programmes that change the lives of people who have learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns, and dementia, as well as carers, in their local communities. With recent partnerships announced with Super League giants Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity in recent weeks, these new collaborations are gaining pace.
This project is making a far more profound impact beyond simply promoting access to the great game of rugby league – it is changing lives. The concept is enabling hundreds of people to follow in the footsteps of their heroes, and in doing so transforming their confidence and self-esteem. Many participants have developed new life-skills, found a route into volunteering or employment, and developed new friendships and relationships. By being showcased widely in major rugby league events, gaining support from stars of the sport and celebrities, and attracting mainstream media attention, it also promotes a more inclusive society and raise awareness of the social care sector.
The Learning Disability Super League is an important example of Community Integrated Care’s ambitious new five-year strategy in action. The strategy aims to see the charity grow to support 10,000 people annually in the years ahead, through developing innovative new models of support in the community. This growth will enable the charity to develop a surplus that will be invested three ways - into enhancing the lives of the people they support and their services, rewarding and developing their colleagues, and supporting the causes that matter most to their local communities. The charity has also pledged to champion social care and to work collaboratively with local and national partners to support a more sustainable, effective and impactful sector.
Community Integrated Care is one of Britain’s biggest and most successful charities. With a 31-year heritage, the social care provider now supports more than 3000 people who have learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns and dementia across England and Scotland.
Mark Adams, CEO of Community Integrated Care, says: “We believe that this collaboration will become one of the most significant inclusive sports programmes in the world. This initiative gives people with learning disabilities an unparalleled platform to stay active, make friends, develop skills and achieve their dreams. By providing people with the opportunity to represent the clubs that they love, become Super League players, and be part of the game’s biggest events, such as Magic Weekend, the sport is not only changing people’s lives but also making a powerful statement about the inclusiveness and values of Rugby League.
“As the Official Social Care partner of the sport, we are looking forward to working with the sport to changing the lives of thousands of people with learning disabilities, mental health concerns, autism and dementia.
“We would like to commend the Super League, RFL, all participating clubs, and the players and legends who have signed up as Ambassadors, for their vision and passion for this programme.”
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