As part of the Premier League Charitable Fund 10th anniversary celebrations. pupils from Barbara Priestman Academy in Sunderland were treated to a surprise video call from Black Cats star Luke O’Nien, who awarded the school with a Premier League Inspires Award.
The Meadowside school, which has been working with Sunderland AFC’s official charity, Foundation of Light for 11 years, supports 11to 19-year-olds with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder or complex learning difficulties.
The Foundation delivers a variety programmes at Barbara Priestman Academy including PE, lunch and afterschool clubs, school sports days and festivals as well as out of the classroom learning days.
Since 2019 the school has taken part in the Premier League Inspires programme which supports 11 to 25-year-olds who are marginalised or at risk of not reaching their potential; helping them as they move through the education system and early adulthood.
Working with the young people, the Foundation’s team has helped to develop students’ personal skills and positive attitudes to succeed in life, with sessions focused on careers and enterprise, positive living, leadership and life-skills such as teamwork and communication.
One of the students who took part in the talk-in session with Luke said: “I think the Q&A with Luke O’Nien was amazing because it inspired me. It helped me improve my communication skills by asking Luke some questions about his career and interests.”
Luke O’Nien, who is the Foundation of Light’s Disability Ambassador, said “I thought I would drop in and surprise them, as I know they have been working hard on the Premier League Inspires programme.”
After discussing his favourite film, how his Aunty who won a Paralympic medal inspired him and that he really enjoyed school, the 26-year-old had this advice about the last few days of school “Just enjoy every day; they are great times. Sometimes it takes you to get older to realise how great school days are. Make sure you work hard…and enjoy every day. Smile every day.
“On behalf of Sunderland football club, I wanted to congratulate you on your award. You’ve done a great job and you’ve inspired a lot of people. Keep up the great work!”
Following the initial lockdown, Barbara Priestman Academy was one of the first schools recommence delivery of the programme. Assistant Head of Academy, Glen Richardson explains “the Premier League Inspires programme has become an integral part of our school learning. The work that the Foundation does in school gives our young people invaluable confidence and presents them with new and exciting opportunities and skills.
“As we returned back to the classroom in September after the initial lockdown, we knew that the Foundation team were going to play a big part in helping our young people transition back into the learning environment. The support they have given us has been fantastic.”
Speaking about the special award Mr Richardson said “We are really honoured to be recognised with the Premier League Inspires Award – it is very special for all of the staff and students at the Academy. And what a fantastic way for the students to learn the special news. Luke was fantastic and I have no doubt has made memories for the children today which they will be talking about for a long time.”
The Premier League Charitable Fund was established 10 years ago to distribute funding provided by the Premier League to clubs across the entire football pyramid, to support those clubs in their delivery of community programmes.
110 professional football clubs from the Premier League to the National League have been working in their communities to engage those that need the greatest support, provide positive pathways and support mental and physical wellbeing.
To find out more about the Foundation’s Premier League Inspires programme click here.
25 November 2020