Photos courtesy of Jim Hunter – thanks
Perth Strathtay Harriers have been recognised at UK-level for delivering good practice for Inclusion in Athletics and Connected Learning.
The club have integrated Para training for some time now and have a strong reputation for their coaching.
scottishathletics National Club Manager, Lindsay McMahon, visited Perth shortly before the coronavirus lockdown and her report has now been publicised by UK Athletics.
‘I visited Perth Strathtay Harriers in early March,’ said Lindsay.
‘During my time there I observed several sessions going on during the evening. Firstly, they had an inclusive Run, Jump, Throw session on for eight years + and several of the athletes had a physical, sensory or learning disability.
‘The young athletes took part in a range of activities and were all coached and encouraged in the same way; there were no obvious differences evident between mainstream and supported athletes.
‘Once the young athletes session finished, a number of different groups turned up to train. This included a group of race runners/wheelchair athletes and a discrete disability group, or ‘Jim’s group’ as they like to be called.
‘Each of these groups trained alongside the mainstream athletes and did a variety of activities. Jim’s group stayed inside for the majority of the winter phase session and participated in running and jumping activities before taking part in circuits.
‘The club volunteers were on hand to support and reassure if any of the athletes needed a bit of assistance. The race runners/wheelchair athletes had been doing track work which wasn’t easy as they had to battle against an extremely cold wind.
‘What was interesting is that they use the track at the same time as other athletes and to avoid any collisions the club reinforce track etiquette to all the athletes. The athletes were all very supportive and encouraging of one another.
Lindsay McMahon on her visit to Perth
‘On speaking to race runner Graeme’s grandmother, she was full of praise for the club and how they support her grandson and have done since day one.
‘They had tried another club before joining Perth Strathtay Harriers but felt it wasn’t suitable for his needs.
‘He has been at the club for around four years and competing in distances from 100m – 1500m regularly over the summer.
‘Graeme and his gran don’t live locally and although there are a couple of athletics clubs closer to home, they travel approximately 50 minutes each way to make the sessions with Perth Strathtay.
‘I think that us a huge compliment to the club’s friendly, supportive and welcoming approach.
‘One of the assistant coaches, Louise Brett, has been a member of the club for 12 years and started out as an athlete taking part in Sportshall athletics at school before joining the club.
‘She has seen the Harriers grow and develop as an inclusive club over the years and how they make adaptions (discretely) to accommodate the needs of the athletes.
‘Louise competed as a T37 sprinter reaching national standard but due to injury had to give up sprinting. She is now back running in 5km events as a club member in addition to being an active coach.
‘She enjoys coaching and helps with different groups as required which is helping her gain varied coaching skills and knowledge, working with other coaches.
‘Louise can be regarded as a role model for all the athletes in that she doesn’t let her disability hold her back and has a greater understating of the barriers supported athletes have to overcome.
‘What I observed throughout the night was a club demonstrating a model of good practice for inclusivity through being friendly, welcoming and, most of all, having an understanding of the needs of athletes with a disability or who just need a bit more support.
‘It was also refreshing to see was the number of parents/carers who stayed throughout each of the sessions to watch and support the athletes.’