In January 2015, a group of Richard Hale students participated in an event at Wodson Park sports centre which encouraged young people to 'take the lead'. It is essential to build and furthermore strengthen the leadership pathway, in this case, within primary and secondary schools of mild learning difficulties (MLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD) and physical and neurological impairment (PNI). 'Taking the Lead' was created in order to provide leadership opportunities and inspire these young people to lead within their own environment.

A total of five Primary MLD, two Secondary MLD and 1 PNI Primary schools attended in January which saw over 70 pupils welcomed by the Richard Hale Sports Leaders. Ian Rose, a talented Paralympian in Judo, opened the day with an amusing speech as well as describing his hard-fought journey to the top which inspired both pupils and leaders alike. The Richard Hale leaders were then divided into six groups in which different activities would be run. These activities included Sad and Happy Turtles, a Beans game, Duck-Duck-Goose, Parachute, a Cats and Dogs game, and finally the session I decided to lead: a Rugby World Cup based session fitting with England hosting the major competition in 2015. Each activity aimed to increase communication skills not only between leader and pupil, but between the pupils themselves. Each session began with the Year 13's leading the activities, followed by a careful encouragement for the young people to 'Take the Lead'.

The day consisted of a rotation-based system where each group of pupils would have their chance to participate in each activity and eventually lead the group themselves. This method was evidently successful after just the second rotation which saw the young people already eager to 'jump in' and 'take the lead'. The most encouraging events were taking place as members of staff were able to stand back and witness their own pupils leading a group, for more often than not, the very first time. Seeing the enjoyment in the young people's faces made me realise the impact the leaders were having on these children and how small contributions to these organised events can go a long way in encouraging enjoyment amongst young people and allowing a sense of leadership and authority for the young people to take away with them, which is fantastic to see.

At times the leaders adapted and changed certain activities to suit the difficulty of learning, which proved successful as every young person appeared to have a fantastic day.

The day was nicely rounded off with some prize-giving, consisting of small, Rugby World Cup based flags and a Rugby ball, which were presented to the young people my fellow leaders and I decided made encouraging contributions to 'take the lead' within the session I was leading. The day was fantastically ran by the Richard Hale Sports Leaders and members of staff, which saw many young people taking the lead and thoroughly enjoy a well-organised event.

Conor Pettit
Year 13 Sports Leader RH