An extract from our Spring 2011 newsletter...
from ECAD Development Officer for Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire, Kevin Pichowski
DISABILITY CRICKET 2010/2011
Jeff Levick (ECAD Development Officer) approached me in the summer of 2010 to try and start cricket for the deaf in the Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire regions. Quite a challenge! Initially, I decided to focus on the Milton Keynes area. I sent e-mails stating the aims of the project. This was just prior to school’s summer holidays. There were some responses from some organisations but very little from schools. The timing was probably inappropriate with the summer break pending.
In the Autumn term of 2010 I resumed trying to make local contacts.
Meantime, out of the blue, through my son Stefan, I made contacts with the Northamptonshire ‘Talking Hands’ group and spent 5 weeks coaching prior to Christmas and 5 weeks after Christmas, successfully introducing cricket sessions. These sessions are now established and have been taken over by a Northants coach.
My initial contacts with schools in Milton Keynes were with the establishments that had units for deaf pupil, attached to mainstream schools. This provision meant that there was integration for deaf pupils in main stream lessons. Later, I made contact with a College that also had deaf pupils.
We were able to offer cricket coaching sessions because we had gained funding from a number of sources. These included Bucks Youth Cricket fund, a local community grant and a grant from ECAD.
Some of these funding sources have promised further funding if the project proves successful.
The most successful contact has been with Chestnuts Primary School. Another coach and I have been leading session within the school since March. The input increased two fold in the summer term. After the summer half term we aim to start an after school club for primary aged deaf pupils from other schools and a mini bus will provide transport to Chestnuts. The staff have been very helpful and the children, a joy to coach.
On one of the sessions each child brings a hearing friend of their choice with them and provides a very positive way of integrating.
The sessions are of course, offered to both boys and girls. There has been a noticeable improvement in their cricket skills, but of course, this is aimed to be a long term project. On 20th June ECAD are playing the MCC at Campbell Park. Children from “Talking Hands” and Chestnuts will be watching the game and then at lunchtime meeting the players and taking place in a Kwik cricket match Northants v Bucks!
We are hoping to encourage the pupils to become involved with local clubs who have a strong colts section. Initially this will be at Wolverton Town Cricket Club.
We aim to organize free taster session at WTCC in the summer holidays for the children aged between 5 and 11 years old. It will also be offered to deaf children in other schools in Milton Keynes. We already have Friday night coach sessions for our Colts and all deaf children will be invited to several of these sessions. We will have a coach especially designated to look after the children and we will have a trained signer.
Contact with relevant secondary school has proved more difficult. The staff reported that presently there appears to be little interest in the project from the current students.
Additionally we have tried to contact relevant pupils through visiting teachers of the deaf and speech therapists. This has produced few results. I have suggested going into schools to provide information about ECAD and the opportunities and I’m awaiting contact.
Our next step is to hire a hall/gym/appropriate space for older pupils. We are also planning to have taster sessions at a local college. We will advertise these taster sessions through Hayley Jarvis who represents The National Deaf Children’s Society, in our area. She has contact details for the children in the variety of local schools.
There is also a new unit for the deaf opening in September at St. Paul’s secondary school, Milton Keynes.
I have additionally found out details of other schools with units for deaf children in South Bucks. I will now be approaching them.
So watch this space for further developments!!
ECAD Development Officer for Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire.