WEA tutor Mark Goodwin wins National Social Impact Award

WEA tutor Mark Goodwin wins National Social Impact Award

WEA tutor Mark Goodwin wins National Social Impact Award - Festival of Learning 2017

We are delighted to announce that our incredible tutor Mark Goodwin from Bradford has won the Festival of Learning National Social Impact Award, for his exceptional achievement in adult learning. This award celebrates individuals and tutors who have inspired others around them to embrace learning opportunities and achieve their potential.

Speaking at the awards Mark highlighted: “it's not just about sport it's about education and we are tying the two things together creating something exciting and empowering...social impact is about going the distance and exceeding both your own and other people's expectations. It's inspirational”

Since its inception, the WEA has supported people in local communities to learn what they want, their way. WEA tutor Mark Goodwin has continued this hallowed tradition and was instrumental in kick-starting the mixed ability rugby movement in England. Under this inclusive model, players with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, ranging from Down’s syndrome to cerebral palsy, play full contact rugby alongside their able-bodied peers.

Mark’s first introduction to mixed ability rugby was through rugby fan Anthony Brooke. Anthony, who was born with cerebral palsy, was frustrated by the lack of sports available in his local community for people with disabilities. Anthony had supported his local club for years but was repeatedly told that he was better off on the side lines.

Mark was determined to change this and with the support of the WEA, established the Bumble Bees; England’s first mixed ability rugby team. The team has gone from strength-to-strength over the years and now has over 40 registered players who train regularly at a local rugby club based in Bingley, West Yorkshire.

Mark was thrilled when the Rugby Football Union recognised the team’s efforts to bring the game to those from different backgrounds by awarding them a special award for inclusion. Thanks to the Bumbles, there are now seven new mixed ability rugby clubs in England, with others in the pipeline across Europe.

Team member, Martin, comments: “Being a mixed ability rugby player makes me feel more independent, has improved my life, and made me a better person.”

Members of the Bumbles team have now gone on to set up International Mixed Ability Sports, whose members conceived and organised the international mixed ability games.

Despite the international recognition, the Bumbles haven’t forgotten their roots and deliver rugby workshops at local SEN Schools. The players are determined to lead by example and encourage others to get involved at an early age. Mark also delivers the WEA ‘Inclusion in Rugby’ programme at mainstream rugby clubs at both a national and local level. Following on from this, Mark has now set his sights on setting up a second WEA class ‘Inclusive Sports’.

Speaking of his achievements Mark recently said: “If you told me a few years ago that we’d be hosting an international mixed ability rugby tournament, I wouldn’t have believed it. The origins of this world tournament stem from a real need to provide inclusive sports and this is genuinely rugby for all.

Full highlights of this years’ festival of learning