Our first story in the Social Inclusion series, we take a look at ‘Rugby for Children with ADHD and their Families ’ and ‘Wilson Group Deaf Rugby Program’ — two transformative programs that leverage the power of rugby to connect with children and Hong Kong’s deaf community, helping grow resilience, empathy and understanding, and building new bridges with the local community.
Happier, Inclusive Communities Through Sport
Sport has the extraordinary ability to transcend language, cultural and social barriers, and this makes it an ideal bridge to equality, integration and social inclusion. While exclusion and discrimination can make it very challenging for children and youth with social vulnerability or disabilities to participate fully in their community, sport can help address these serious challenges in a playful, activity-based way. The benefits are enormous — children who play on teams can find supportive teammates who help them achieve their goals, while improving self-esteem, and social skills.
Our ongoing Social Inclusion programs help students and youth from the margins better integrate into the community and become active citizens through play-based learning, feeling empowered to tackle goals that are meaningful to them, improve their health and wellbeing, and find new confidence in their abilities. Two of our projects — ‘Rugby for children with ADHD and their Families’ and ‘Wilson Group Deaf Rugby Program’ — aim to help participants learn life skills, encouraging team-building and positive peer interactions.
Rugby for children with ADHD and their Families
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) struggle with self-control and often show impulsive behaviour. They may not follow instructions easily or have trouble sitting still. New parents might face an even harder situation, as they know little about their child’s unique condition and appropriate treatment. Parenting can become extremely challenging and stressful, and can negatively impact the relationship children have with their loved ones.
The ‘Rugby for ADHD Children and their Families’ program targets both parents and children. Research has demonstrated the many benefits sport activities can provide for children with ADHD. The project aims to foster the holistic development of children and help them learn how to work out plans and strategies through playing rugby. Children can practice self-control and emotion management, and parents can participate in sports together with their children to foster holistic family development.
This program is organised in partnership with researchers from Chinese University Hong Kong. The program equips parents with psychological education, at-home and outdoor rugby training, and the practical skills they need to create a positive learning environment on and off the pitch. Parents also have a communication platform to share their experiences and release the stress of caregiving.
A suitable learning method and acceptance and appreciation from others are important for children. The project aims to create an environment where children can thrive and learn important life skills and positive behaviour, while parents can get involved and create special moments with their children while playing rugby together on the pitch. This creates tighter bonds between loved ones and stronger opportunities for integration.
Integration into the larger community is another key part of this project, children are provided a pathway to join a local rugby club where they can enjoy the sport of rugby with new friends. A number of children from last year’s program are carrying on their rugby journey as full-fledged members of the THT Lion Rugby Club.
We’re excited to report that the Rugby for ADHD Children and their Families program is set to resume in September 2023 and aims to provide 30 families with weekly training at a local club.
To know more about the upcoming project, please reach out to us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deaf Rugby Program with Wilson Group
Sport can help transform our community attitudes about disability by highlighting skills and reducing the tendency to see the disability instead of the person. As Luke Cheyne, England Deaf Rugby captain, says, “Deaf Rugby tackles are just as hard, the pace is just as fast, and the game is just as beautiful”. Deaf Rugby frames sportspeople in a positive context and reshapes any assumptions about what they can and cannot do.
This program aims to provide rugby training for deaf players (children, youth and adults), with a view towards integration in the active community through regular rugby training and competitive opportunities This equips the deaf community with important social and emotional learning (SEL) skills that prioritise their mental and physical well-being and helps them overcome challenges. The project also facilitates the development of a strong support network to promote resilience with an emphasis on bonding within the deaf community and bridging the gap between deaf players and the wider rugby community.
We were thrilled to see our deaf players head off to the 2023 World Deaf Rugby 7s Tournament held in Cordoba, Argentina in early April 2023, a trip made successful by contributions from our local community, raising over HKD 150,000 to support their dream to play in an world-class international tournament. Ten players from Hong Kong (3 men, 7 women) joined the Barbarians Team and played against England, Australia, Wales, Fiji and Japan. The Deaf Rugby program remains inspired to support members of the deaf rugby community, raise awareness about the importance of social inclusion and promote a healthy understanding of the barriers faced by deaf people.
Next on our calendar, we’re looking forward to hosting the first ever Deaf Community Fun Day open to the public around the end of June. The public is be invited to know more about challenges and strengths of the deaf rugby community, meet and greet the athletes who competed in the World Cup. Be sure to follow us on Instagram or Facebook to be the first to know!
Coming Up: All Aboard! More on Sports for Social Inclusion…
Next week, we spotlight other ongoing Rugby for Good projects that champion social inclusion, and how we’re using sports to forge pathways between those on the margins and the wider community. Stay tuned!