This article is taken from the nasen Connect Spring 2024 edition. You can read the article and view it in the reader below.
Young people with autism can find communication challenging. One school’s approach to this was to introduce a sports podcast. Several years and a major award later, teacher Adam Millichimp talks us through the initiative.
The TWS Sports Podcast (www.twssportspodcast.co.uk/) is hosted by learners at Tettenhall Wood school. The podcast was set up in May 2021 to help our students develop key skills. We wanted to think outside of the box and create a new way of learning and help to enrich our young people with new experience and opportunities. Autism is often associated with difficulties with social communication and social interactions, so we wanted to focus on these skills.
Podcasting can help to support these skills in several ways. The majority of our podcasts are via Zoom, which helps our learners to feel more comfortable and confident when conducting the interview. The podcast also helps us to promote the amazing things that young people with autism can do and increase the awareness and acceptance of autism to the wider population.
Each week we speak to famous sportsmen and women from around the world about their careers, their highs and lows and so much more.
We have had the opportunity to interview some great sportsmen and women such as Harry Redknapp, Sam Allardyce, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Mick Foley, Sir Clive Woodward, Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, plus TV presenter Paddy McGuinness and more. The podcast has also given our learners the chance to visit a range of stadiums such as Anfield, Molineux and Croud Meadow. In addition to this, our learners have also been to film premiers, hosted live radio shows, been Commonwealth baton bearers, featured on the BBC News and more. As the podcast has progressed, we have been fortunate to speak to people from all over the world, such as guests from Australia, USA and throughout Europe.
FEEDBACK FEEDS INSPIRATION
We have had some incredible feedback from our guests regarding our podcast. We spoke to TV presenter and sports fan Paddy McGuinness about his love of sport but also about his three autistic children and what it was like as a parent. He gave us some brilliant feedback, “Listening to your students on the podcast gives me as a parent so much hope for the future, it is incredible what you are doing and achieving.”
In addition to this, football manager Harry Redknapp stated, “I have loved being a guest on this podcast and the awareness for autism is incredible, well done.” Hearing the kind messages from our guests gives our learners so much encouragement going forward and fills them with confidence.
As well as this we have also received so many incredible messages from our listeners from around the world; one of our listeners, Steven, left us this review in September: “I have followed this podcast for a few years now and I am just amazed at how it keeps growing and growing. Hearing the pupils talk so openly and passionately to the sportsmen and women is lovely to hear. The school should be extremely proud of this podcast and the hard work that has gone into it. Giving your pupils a voice that is heard around the world is so powerful and people are listening. Please keep these podcasts coming. Every Tuesday when the new episode is released, I turn it on as soon as I get in the car to go to work. Keep up the great work.’’ We have had a number of students involved with the podcast over the three years since its inception. Some of our learners enjoy supporting with the editing of the podcast, others prefer to host and interview the guests. One of our learners, Tom, who has hosted the podcast from the start said, “This podcast has given me so many opportunities that I never thought were possible. I would love to leave school and work within the media as this podcast has really given me a passion for media work.”
Another student, Alyssa, who has hosted the podcast for over a year, said “This podcast is really inspirational to me, it helps me to improve my communication and confidence and most importantly I am proud of myself because of what I have been doing”.
In 2021 the TWS Sports Podcast won a global sports podcast award. We were shortlisted in the ‘Best Equality and Social Impact’ category at the Sports Podcast Awards and we came out as winners, beating podcasts that were produced by the BBC and the Olympic Games. Firstly, to be nominated in our first year was such an incredible honour but to go on and win the award was beyond any of our expectations. To gain that recognition for all our hard work was incredible and an unforgettable experience for our learners. Head of school, Helen Masters, said, “I am so incredibly proud of all of the learning involved with the podcast, they have made the school, the community and themselves so proud, they are superstars”. What we have achieved over the last few years is beyond our wildest dreams, and we cannot wait to see what the next few years has in store for the TWS Sports Podcast.
In 2021 the TWS Sports Podcast won a global sports podcast award. We were shortlisted in the ‘Best Equality and Social Impact’ category at the Sports Podcast Awards and we came out as winners, beating podcasts that were produced by the BBC and the Olympic Games.
BIO - ADAM MILLICHIP
Adam is a teacher at Tettenhall Wood School, a school for children and young adults with autism. As part of his role he works for the Wolverhampton Outreach Service, which supports mainstream schools to enable inclusion for all children and young people. He has been Tettenhall Wood School for just over three years and worked at a special school in Shropshire for seven years before that.
nasen Connect Spring 2024 out now!
This resource was first published in February 2024 and was last reviewed in February 2024.
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