Kira Skiing

Care experience and sport: Kira Henry

To help raise awareness of the role of sport in supporting care experienced young people, Fit for Girls tutor and former Young People’s Sport Panel member, Kira Henry shared her story as a care experienced young person.

What was your experience growing up and what were the challenges?

I went into care when I was four, with my brother and sister. We went to live with our grandparents, which is classed as kinship care. I think the main challenge that I experienced growing up was everyone assuming you lived with your parents. It was pretty difficult as a young person, trying to understand why you were a bit different from everyone else. It can be a little bit lonely because I don’t really fit into everyone else’s normal.

What role did sport play for you growing up and what is it that you love about it?

Sport was something I got into because of my sister. I was very much a follower, if my brother or sister were doing something, I wanted to be involved too. It helped me find my place a bit too. We all ended up in football teams, football was where I found my voice and made me feel part of something bigger than myself. By the time I got to high school, there wasn’t a day in the week when I wasn’t at some sort of club either in school or in the community. It was always team sports that I got involved in, that way you’re always part of a unit. I think I liked that aspect of having to work well together to be able to succeed.

Was there anyone who stood out for you, who helped you as you balanced your home life, your school work and sport?

I got a lot of support from my teachers at school. I think the school became almost a home away from home. The PE department was a crucial part of my routine. I was always there, and they provided that space where I always felt welcome, no matter what time it was. They gave me things to do when I needed to be distracted; they let me use the hall when I wanted to practice different sports, and when I needed a place to study, they helped me find a room. I was lucky enough to have a really positive relationship with a lot of teachers in my school; if I needed something, I could have gone to almost any of them, but my PE teachers were usually my first port of call.

You’re studying to become a PE teacher, tell us why you want to work in education and what difference you hope to make as a teacher?

I had a great experience in school, but I know lots of other young people weren’t as lucky as me, including my own siblings, for lots of different reasons. I decided I wanted to be a teacher very early on because I loved my P6 teacher. Over the years my reasons for wanting to be a teacher have changed from wanting to be like the amazing teachers I’ve had to wanting to provide some support that young people need at that time in their life. I’d like to make young people feel like PE is a subject for everyone and show them just how beneficial it can be in their lives.

What would you say to any young care experienced person out there who might not think sport is for them, how can they get the support they need?

There is a place for everyone in sport. Sometimes it just takes a little bit of time to find the sport you really enjoy. There is lots of information online to find out about sport near you, but I always found it helpful to speak to people around me that liked sport, teachers, friends or social workers. Lots of sports also have free taster sessions too.

What advice/tips would you give to any clubs or schools who want to make sport inclusive but don’t know how to support care experienced people. What are the key things they should do?

For schools the main thing would be to make sure you have clubs throughout the week at different times. Some care experienced young people can’t stay after school to go to clubs so lunchtime clubs are essential, or they might only be able to stay on certain days. Having more options makes a big difference. For clubs, the biggest thing would be using inclusive language. It can feel really isolating when people default to asking for parental permission. It’s so much more inclusive to say someone at home or whoever looks after you. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. 

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