A FUN inclusion day was held at a Caerphilly borough rugby club for people on the autistic spectrum.

Risca Rugby Club hosted the day on Monday, August 23 – set up by the National Autistic Society St Mark’s Centre, which is based in Newport.

The day was filled with events – shaped by the service users themselves – and included something for everyone, ranging from Zumba, five-a-side football, hula hoops, crafts, egg-and-spoon races, tug of war, Dragons providing inflatables for rugby and a sensory area for those who preferred it.

South Wales Argus:

Centre manager, Laura Baggus, said: “We had discussions with the service users as to what they wanted, and responses ranged from hula hooping to rugby.

“The most overwhelming response was for a disco. So, we had one of our users who is interested in DJing running the disco. He set up his own gear and has been loving doing it.”

Attending the session were several people using the centre’s outreach service as well as the 11 people living in the two residential homes run by the society and their support workers.

All the users enjoyed the day, and it was a lot of fun for them, their support workers and those involved in setting it up.

South Wales Argus:

Harvey Philpott, one of the managers at the National Autistic Society was pleased with how the session turned out. He said: “It’s the first time for a long time that people we support have been able to get together.

“To be able to put on an event like this, to allow people to come together is very important. For the people we support to achieve little things is amazing. It doesn’t matter if they are scoring a goal every shot, but if they have never given football a go but give it a try, it’s a win.

“We have not done a sports day like this for a long time.”

South Wales Argus:

The event was organised and run by Ms Baggus, deputy manager Emma Barter and team leaders Ian Greenow and Bobbie Poole.


Ms Baggus said: “Being new into the service it has been an absolute pleasure and the engagement from the visitors has been fantastic.”

South Wales Argus:

Gavin Sullivan, head of inclusion at the Dragons, provided some inflatables for attendees to try out rugby and hone their passing skills. He said: “We were asked to come and support. Our inclusion spectrum is huge and anything we can do to support we will.

“We’ve had a lot of the users participating which has been great. One of the users here plays for our mixed ability team, which is open to anyone.”

The Dragons are working on their events for people with autism alongside a number of their other inclusion events.

“We have sporting memories for people with dementia, mixed ability rugby, walking rugby supported by Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and mental health, events at SEN schools, community gateway with Dragons," siad Mr Sullivan.

“We are also working with the Serennu Centre.

South Wales Argus:

“Autism is a big area we want to be included with. Dragons Rugby are positive about inclusion throughout our region. We are getting an inclusion space to be able to engage with as many different demographics.

“Dragons Community are delighted to be supporting the National Autistic Society and engaging with so many people and we want to continue to do that throughout our partnership.”

To find out more about the National Autistic Society, visit https://www.autism.org.uk/

To find out more about the Dragons’ inclusion activities, email gareth.sullivan@dragonsrugby.wales