Teenager Dominic Ledger has not taken part in physical education at school since he started Year 7 when he was 11 – he simply couldn’t tolerate contact sport.
16-year-old Dominic has an autistic spectrum disorder as well as ADHD and he does enjoy activity and sports but can find it hard to join in because of his condition which causes anxiety.
He and mum Jemma were delighted when he was invited to take part in a new project at Daisy Chain – Getting the inactive, active funded by Tees Valley Community Foundation.
Around 50 young people have taken part in the initial project benefiting from a range of exciting taster activities, progressing their skills and culminating in special trip to climb Roseberry Topping. Activities included athletics, obstacle courses and dodgeball to build up confidence and stamina and working with external organisations such as the YMCA to offer new experiences.
Dominic says, ‘As soon as I heard about the project, I wanted to be part of it. I knew it would be good because it was at Daisy Chain. It’s a place where you can just be you, there’s no bullying, everyone is friends and you all have the same conditions. We all understand each other and friendships are constantly growing. I can be myself, I don’t have to try to fit in.
‘I have really enjoyed taking part in all the activities and throughout it all I was looking forward to climbing Roseberry Topping, it’s all I’ve talked about.’
Mum Gemma says, ‘It’s easy for Dominic to shut himself off from the real world and exist in a gaming world so having somewhere he can go and mix with others, be himself and take part in activities is brilliant.’
Dominic has been attending Daisy Chain for about five years and is currently in the after-school teen club. Jemma say, ‘He was nervous at first but he settled in and ever since he started going he has tried to join in with everything. He gets a lot of support from Daisy Chain, it’s somewhere he can offload any issues he has kept to himself and he needs to be able to express them.
‘The project has given him the opportunity to take part in physical activity with people he knows and trusts. Everyone is in the same boat and the staff are aware of Dominic’s feelings and the behaviour they can lead to.’
Dominic adds, ‘The staff help you and give you the confidence to put yourself through new things and then when you do the activities you get a big confidence boost yourself.’
Jo McLurg, Care Team Leader, is delighted with Dominic’s progress and his development, ‘He has joined in with everything and thrown himself into the new activities. It’s fantastic to be able make a difference and see Dominc and all the young people develop from a project like this which has the input of external experts we wouldn’t normally have access to.’