Wasps have received high praise from a Leamington mother who says the rugby club have "changed her son's life".
Edward Newton, who has verbal and physical dyspraxia, was one of the first members of the Playing Advantage club when it was launched by Wasps in 2017.
His mum Sue has now praised Wasps for helping Edward become more outgoing and grow in confidence as it celebrates its third anniversary.
The Playing Advantage club – which is organised by Wasps Rugby Club’s community coaches alongside funding from DS Smith – is targeted at young people aged between six and 19-years-old with any type and level of learning disability, and allows them to take part in a variety of sporting activities centred on a rugby theme.
Edward, who attends Round Oak School in Warwick, joined the club just one month after it was launched and attends sessions every Sunday, which are held free of charge at King Henry VIII School in Coventry between 9am and 10.30am.
Sue said: “Edward struggles to coordinate both physically and through words, and was non-verbal until he was around four-years-old.
“He can be quite quiet in social situations, but at Playing Advantage he can be himself – it doesn’t matter if he drops a ball or struggles to do anything.
“Before Edward joined the club he didn’t do any sports other than swimming, but now he goes to the sessions every Sunday and joins in with everything.
“He loves going and it’s really helped his confidence develop. It’s even given him the confidence to attend another sports club in Leamington.
“All of the coaches are fantastic – some actually work in special schools which is great – and they’re really good at getting everyone involved.
“Edward’s sister Emily also volunteered at the club for six months as part of her bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award, so with both myself and Edward’s dad Dave taking them to sessions, it’s become a real family thing.
“We’ve also all become big Wasps fans and regularly watch the home games together.
“I couldn’t recommend Playing Advantage enough, it’s had a huge impact on Edward and I’d urge everyone to give it a go.”
Over the past three years Playing Advantage’s weekly visitor numbers have soared to around 45, including the launch of an additional session at Hastings High School in Hinckley every Wednesday between 7pm and 8pm.
Jordan Young, senior community development officer at Wasps, added: “It is excellent to hear how much Playing Advantage has helped Edward, and demonstrates the impact the club is having on the lives of young people across the area.
“We are very proud of the club and its growing success, and it is fantastic to celebrate its third anniversary.
“We hope to inspire even more young people to take part in sporting activities in the future.”
For more information about Wasps’ Playing Advantage programme visit www.wasps.co.uk