The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) collaborated with the LFC Foundation, the official charity of Liverpool Football Club (LFC), to host a week-long football training course that addressed effective ways for people working in sports in Qatar to engage with children who have autism, or sensory or physical impairments.
The training programme, titled ‘Respect 4 All, Qatar’, took place at Education City from October 8 to 12. It focused on giving sports coaches targeted practical training in helping children with autism reach their potential, socialise and pursue a healthy lifestyle through participation in football-related activities, according to a press statement from WISH.
The course included both classroom sessions and practical outdoor workshops, the latter of which saw coaches work directly with local children who have autism. The sessions discussed topics such as the evolution of working practices and language, how people with additional needs engage in sport, and best practice.
Children with special needs take part in the initiative with LFC Foundation coaches and Qatar-based sports trainers.
The training culminated in a festival day that brought together the participating coaches and children for a range of fun activities. Alongside coaches from LFC Foundation, the day was also attended by Machaille al-Naimi, president of Community Development, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development (QF), and Greg Gomis, goalkeeper from Al-Sailiya Sports Club, a Qatar Stars League football club.
Also, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar supplied a juice kiosk and bicycles as part of its ‘Sahtak Awalan’ healthy living initiative.
The new programme follows on from a workshop held in May this year, which was organised by WISH and delivered by LFC Foundation community coaches. At the May workshop, representatives from a variety of local government, health and educational organisations were briefed on the skills required to set up successful training programmes for children with autism.
Among those taking part in the workshop and subsequent training programme were Awsaj Academy, Qatar Autism Families Association, Primary Health Care Corporation, Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs, Evolution Sports Qatar, the Ministry of Interior - Police Sports Federation, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Qatar Foundation Recreation Services, Qatar Paralympic Committee, Renad Academy and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Sports Academy.
Andrea Cooper, head of LFC Foundation, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with WISH on their inclusive training programme for local children in Qatar. Our coaching team is highly experienced in delivering specialist sports sessions that promote inclusion and wellbeing and achieve our goal of creating life-changing opportunities for children and young people in Liverpool and beyond.”
Sultana Afdhal, acting chief executive officer of WISH, who brought LFC Foundation’s ‘Respect 4 All’ programme to Qatar, added: “WISH is delighted to have had the opportunity to bring the LFC Foundation team to Qatar and to work with them to deliver a programme that we hope will have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of children with disabilities within our local community for many years to come.”
Since the inception of WISH in 2013, children’s health has been a core research area. To date, WISH has worked with its global community of healthcare experts to create two evidence-based reports - ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing in Children’ and ‘Autism: A Global Framework for Action’.
WISH, an initiative of QF, has also made it a priority to highlight innovations that expand access to effective mental health treatment and the care of people with autism.
WISH’s collaborative work with the LFC Foundation is in line with its commitment to establishing a sustainable programme that supports Qatar’s National Mental Health Strategy, ‘Changing Minds, Changing Lives 2013-2018’, the statement adds.
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