First-team star Leighton Baines was present for Everton in the Community’s first SEN tournament at USM Finch Farm where a total of 17 teams from special educational needs schools across Merseyside took part.
Students from as young as 11 up to the ages of 16 where invited to the Blues' training ground to take part in a one-off ‘Everton SEN Schools Cup’ – the first of its kind ran by the charity.
School teams throughout the day participated at Everton’s indoor sports facility where Baines took time out of his schedule to meet participants who were anxious to meet the former England international.
The tournament represents just a small fraction of the work that EitC’s disability programme is fulfilling in Merseyside.
Everton in the Community’s disability programme dates back from 1999 and provides football and physical activity opportunities to more than a thousand disabled children and adults each year to help every individual achieve their full potential.
Some of the notable achievements from the programme to date include:
- The programme runs ten football teams, available to those with any disability - whether that be learning, physical, reduced stature, autism, cerebral palsy, deaf or partially sighted. These teams offer opportunities to play in local, regional and national football competitions and help to improve self-confidence and reduce social isolation.
- One of those teams, Everton Amputees, represented England in the first ever European Amputee Football Federation Champions League.
- Another team, Everton Under-16 Pan Disability Ashley Premiership team secured a title win in the Greater Manchester League.
- EitC’s Down Syndrome team finished fifth in the Merseyside Ability Counts League and its Pan Disability Women’s team participated in the Merseyside Ability County Men’s League.
- For more than 10 years, Everton in the Community staff have been delivering play therapy workshops in Alder Hey Children’s Hospital and in the last 12 months have engaged with 900 sick and disabled children and their siblings.
- Everton in the Community’s Disability Manager, Steve Johnson was recognised at the start of the year for his admirable and inspirational work by the England Amputee Football Association by the former Prime Minister Theresa May.
- The programme recently supported work placements for 10 disabled children.
- Worked in partnership with Aintree Racecourse to deliver horse-riding opportunities for over 150 disabled children.
- Delivered multi-sport activities to over 100 disabled adults who access local day centres across Liverpool.
- In late 2018, our disability programme was successful in a funding application to BBC Children in Need. Their aid - alongside long-standing support from Charities Trust enables us to further develop the work and opportunities we can offer disabled young people across Merseyside.