A coach who works tirelessly to give children with autism opportunities in sport has had her dedication recognised after being named Janice Eaglesham Disability Coach of the Year for 2019.
Majella Kerr, a coach with HOPE for Autism in North Lanarkshire was recognised for the life-changing impact she has on the young people she works with through a variety of ever-expanding sport sessions including fitness, football, swimming, trampolining, cycling, yoga and karate.
Going over and above to create an inclusive and encouraging environment for participants comes naturally for Majella, who took time to learn Makaton sign language and the picture exchange communication system to better communicate with children who cannot speak.
A two-year balanceability class, taught by Majella, successfully coached more than 90% of children taking part to ride a bike – despite the fact the co-ordination required for cycling is often exceptionally challenging for people with autism.
In her own words
Majella said: “HOPE for Autism exists to give young people with autism opportunities to get involved in sport that, unfortunately, they don’t always get elsewhere.
“The sessions are great fun and are always geared around something that the young people want to learn or try.
“It’s honestly the best feeling to see someone come in and take part. Whether that’s for five minutes or the full session – it should all be celebrated.
"Just to get to the session takes a lot for the children and their family, so to then see them enjoy it, it’s absolutely brilliant.
“Seeing that makes you want to do more and help get more coaches and volunteers in so that even more children can benefit from the sessions.”
Majella picked up her award at the sportscotland Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards 2019 at Glasgow City Chambers on 21 November.
Inspirational coaches, officials and volunteers from all over Scotland were recognised across 15 categories for their significant contribution to sport.
Hosted by BBC Scotland’s Bryan Burnett, the Awards celebrated coaches, officials and volunteers for their work in sports such as swimming, cycling, athletics, football, karate, wheelchair curling, basketball, boxing and canoeing.
Stewart Harris, sportscotland chief executive, said: “Every year across Scotland, thousands of dedicated sporting enthusiasts devote their time, knowledge and skills to afford others the chance to take part in sport, and experience all the benefits that come with sport participation.
“Our Coaching, Officiating and Volunteering Awards give us a chance to celebrate the great sporting achievements that are taking place every day and congratulate those who are making an incredible commitment to Scottish sport.
“At sportscotland we are implementing a world-class sporting system at every level and that is only possible with the support of the many dedicated coaches, officials and volunteers.”
Find out more
Visit the sportscotland website for information about coaching, officiating and volunteering.