Apr 02, 2015
Peter to 'Keep on Running' for Foundation
Today is World Autism Day. With that in mind we take a look at the inspirational work that the Saracens Sport for All, and in particular the Sarrie’s Skills Club.
We look at 20 year-old Peter Biddle, who has been working incredibly hard to train for the London 10k later this year to raise money for the Saracens Sport Foundation.
Peter attends Allianz Park every Monday and Wednesday, and trains alongside Saracens Sport Foundation Development Manager Owain Davies. He is also a keen Rugby fan, and has attended Saracens’ matches at Allianz Park on a regular basis.
We have spoken to Peter’s Mother, Fiona Biddle, who has kindly talked candidly about their experiences and the impact it has had had on both Peter, and the family as a whole.
Hi Fiona, could you tell us about Peter’s involvement with the Sarrie’s Skills Club?
“Peter is severely autistic, non-verbal and finds it really hard to communicate what he wants, yet he clearly expresses great joy when we take the short route from our house to Saracens. Whether it's the evening he goes to the Sarrie’s Skills Club or running around the track, training with Owain for the 10k run in London next year, his face lights up when he realises where he's going.
“As a 20-year old boy, expending all that excess energy is both exciting and calming for Peter. Both evenings offer him the chance to focus his attention on something he can do well, with the one-to-one support of Saracen's skilled and highly sensitive staff.”
How important is it that Peter has the chance to use the facilities at Allianz Park?
“It's really important that Peter has the opportunity to access the facilities at Allianz Part, with the support staff in place. If Peter doesn't spend enough time out of the house exercising he gets bored and frustrated, often habitually over-eating for comfort; and this can lead not only to weight gain but also to some really distressing self-harming behaviours, pinching and scratching his face - drawing blood - and hitting himself on the head really hard.”
As parents, what impact does Peter’s activities have on you?
“As parents, Peter's self-harming behaviour is obviously heart-breaking and frightening to witness. So Allianz Park has been an invaluable part of our planning for Peter's leisure time. Occupational therapy, if you like.”
What are the barriers you have had to overcome to support Peter to engage with the activities and coming to a Saracens game?
“We also get to share some of Peter's familiarity and excitement with the Saracens community when we take him to the rugby matches. Peter is very noise sensitive, and this can also trigger his self-harming, so we are careful to ensure that he wears his ear defenders when he needs to, and we spend a lot of time walking around the ground when the game is on as Peter finds it difficult to sit down for too long. However, that means we get to savour the delicious food and drink more and greet Sarrie the Camel, as well as bumping into a lot of familiar faces of staff from Sarrie’s Skills Club. A lovely day out.”
Why not donate to Peter’s JustGiving page or text SSCP51 £5 to 70070.
The Sarrie’s Skills Club is an out of school sports club for young people with autism. This is the first programme designed specifically for those who are severely autistic to be run by any professional sports team in the UK. The project is entirely unique due to the severity of autism that is caters for – offering physical activity in a stimulating environment for young people who have little or no verbal communication skills and can require two on one support to ensure their safety and enjoyment.