With the support of social programme FIFA “Football for Hope” and the Russian State Social University, DSActive were invited to Moscow to participate in a seminar organised by the Russian charity Downside Up. The seminar was called “Psycho-pedagogical features of work with children with Down’s syndrome in sport groups of football”.
Downside Up provide support and advice throughout Russia for families raising children with Down’s syndrome. One of their main objectives is to change societal attitudes by raising public awareness of the condition.
The seminar was attended by over 80 experts interested in providing sport activities for children with Down’s syndrome, including sports instructors, physical education teachers, coaches, students and volunteers. Speakers shared their experiences of working with people with Down’s syndrome. Sheila Heslam and Sophia Pittounikos spoke about the DSActive programme and its successes. Sophia also ran practical training for the students and coaches who will be working for Downside Up’s football programme. Sophia demonstrated different activities and methods the students and coaches can use when working with people with Down’s syndrome.
“It was great to see so many people attending the conference. It just goes to show how important the work that Downside Up is doing when creating football opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome.”
“Thank you very much for your lecture and training, it was just wonderful, great and very informative. I have played and coached football for 7 years and you have opened up a lot for me”.
On the second day of their trip Sheila and Sophia enjoyed a visit to Downside Up’s offices to meet staff and tour their fantastic building. Education and employment are key projects for the organisation and they were keen to hear about the DSA’s experience in these areas. After meeting everyone, it was time for the main event: the football training session! Whilst Sheila talked to parents and answered their questions, Sophia was helping to coach the session.
Sophia said: “It was great to finally see the session after hearing so much about it. It was really good and I loved being able to help out and coach! The players were having such a good time whilst learning the different skills needed in football. I’m really thankful for the opportunity to come to Russia and share my experience of coaching football. Hopefully one day the players and coaches can come to our National Festival in the UK!!”.