RL4ALEX Inspiration: Alex Whiteley – About Alex
Alex is 10 years old and thoroughly loves life, but as with every child who has any form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder he is however completely unaware of his uniqueness.
From being a small child Alex has struggled to communicate his thoughts and opinions and this has presented his family and friends with additional difficulties to those of a child without the uniqueness of Alex.
An unfortunate yet common story in regards to a medical diagnosis then ensues as every family with any knowledge of child described as having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder will empathise with. Appointment upon appointment and test upon test and it still remains a frustration to Alex’s parents, Stuart and Hayley that Alex is yet to be awarded his ‘label’.
In June 2013 some progress was made when Alex was attributed to have ‘Auditory Processing Disorder’ but his screening for Autism given his behavioural traits he exhibits, still continues and to complicate matters further he is also suspected of having petit mal epilepsy.
Alex is extremely happy in ‘his’ world, he carries on his day to day life with the same fun and mischievousness that any young child would surrounding himself with his unique love and knowledge of planes and trains which it seems has been borne from nowhere to manifest itself in Alex presenting information and detail by the bucket load about any plane which he views flying overhead or sitting in meticulous alignment and order in the living room at home.
Although it is not known where Alex’s knowledge for planes and trains comes from it is quite easy to establish that his unbelievable passion for rugby league is a trait firmly handed down from his Dad, Stuart.
It could even be said that Alex’s support for the Wakefield Wildcats & Parramatta Eels could even be bigger than that of his Dads but one thing is for sure, Alex dreams frequently of being a rugby league player and doesn’t recognise the lack of equality and discrimination that is currently in front of him stopping him working towards achieving his dream.
Will Alex or others with similar ‘uniqueness’ ever be able to play as a professional rugby league player? Well my answer is simple; I don’t know and neither does anyone else. But I would support him and others like him to work towards achieving their goal every day for the rest of their lives if I had to irrespective of whether they would or wouldn’t achieve their goal. Why? Because the fun, enjoyment, sense of belonging, social inclusiveness, psychological stimuli, health and physical benefits each individual would gain from doing that are so vast and unmeasurable that ultimately it would ensure they lead a fulfilling and active life.
The adversity, ignorance, prejudice and discrimination that Alex encounters on a daily basis would destroy the strongest of individuals over time but thankfully Alex is blissfully unaware albeit for a period of minutes where Alex could be overcome with emotions of ‘I don’t understand!’ or ‘What have I don’t wrong?’. These forms of oppressive behaviour manifest themselves in many forms and on many differing levels of severity from; simply being the last kid picked in the team to the prejudice of others who choose for reasons only be-known to them not to understand the conditions behind the symptomatic behaviour of Alex’s disability.
Anyone who spends time with Alex will tell you what an inquisitive, loving, polite, well-mannered and caring child he is. Emotionally he can become upset very easily and mostly fails to understand the complex world we live in which leads to additional frustration for him but happily constant reassurance, re affirming and repeating details can allow Alex to function within our mainstream society with minimal effect.
Again, who are we to prevent any child or adult for that matter fulfilling their dreams and passions whatever they maybe? Sure it may take a little effort, a bit of our time and no doubt a lot of patience but isn’t that a small sacrifice that we could all make?
Alex touches so many lives and impresses his unique character immediately on whoever he comes into contact with. This aspect of Alex should be embraced and encouraged as we could all learn from the unconditional approach and example Alex sets due to his uniqueness and character and all of us should try to synthesise aspects of his unconditionality into our own lives.
The passion burns within Alex to do what others do regardless of his limitations, or should that be ‘the limitations of others?!’
About RL4ALEX – Why is RL4ALEX unique?
RL4ALEX will provide sports and activity opportunities for individuals in and out of mainstream education settings specialising in the integration and re-integration of Autistic Spectrum labelled Children.
The Project will make a significant impact on the lives of children who are yet to receive their medical label, assist and support them in achieving their personal potential in an unconditional yet positive environment.
Where would the client base for RL4ALEX come from?
It is envisaged that we will receive referrals from many different avenues such as; community support groups, schools, PCT’s, families, community clubs, National Governing Bodies, social services and just simply ‘word of mouth’.
How will the RL4ALEX concept become sustainable?
RL4ALEX is a brand new concept and as such will need significant support financially to get set up. The service will initially work towards the aim of being sustainable within a 2 year period through various income streams, including memberships, training programmes and community fundraising initiatives. In addition to this we have tentative interest from private organisations expressing their financial support in the interim with a view to potential providing longer term support.
What skills and experience make RL4ALEX the right people to ensure this venture is successful?
The team at RL4ALEX has a varied and diverse range of experience within health and social care, mental health, sports development, professional sports environments, marketing, management, journalism and social media.
This experience lends itself well to accessing the necessary networks and support systems to enable the project to be successful.
We possess strong inter personal skills, are experienced in building sustained relationships on both a professional and personal level will make us successful in this venture.
What social needs will RL4ALEX address? Who will benefit our work?
RL4ALEX will make a significant impact with the local and wider communities challenging and addressing the social needs of discrimination, exclusion, stigma and bullying in a positive way through sport and education.
Registered Address – ‘RL4ALEX’ 124 St Davids Crescent, Aspull, Wigan, Greater Manchester, WN2 1ST
‘RL4ALEX’ is the Charity / trading name developed by Stuart Whitely & Dave Gibbons
Tel: 01942 830435 Mobile: 07415121219 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.rl4alex.co.uk
RL4ALEX will benefit all people in some way shape or form but will ultimately focus on individual between the ages of 6-25 within the Greater Manchester area initially before increasing its provision across the country.
The immediate beneficiaries of the RL4ALEX project will be the individual with whom we are working with in addition to their family and wider social circles and networks that encompass local sports clubs, groups, facilities and communities.
How does RL4ALEX know there is a need for this venture?
Through our working life we have gained a significant insight into the need for a project such as RL4ALEX. Extensive working within the local networks of schools, sports clubs and groups in addition to taking on board the media exposure this and related topics receive has further highlighted this current issue.
It is worryingly evident that coaches, teachers and volunteers are not confident or knowledgeable enough to be able to provide meaningful activities that integrate individuals with such disabilities into activity sessions without portraying in some way the social needs we have previously identified; discrimination, exclusion, stigma and bullying.
We firmly believe in the majority of situations this is not intentional and can be simply put down to ignorance, lack of confidence and in most cases understanding the simple need for patience, an unconditional approach and clear, succinct, direct instruction.
What other plans do RL4ALEXve in place to ensure the venture continues to be successful?
We aim to provide this project initially as a pilot before becoming the facilitator and deliverer for the National Governing Body of Rugby League, The Rugby Football League (RFL) before rolling out our model and structure to other sports.
We aim to have a sustainable project with the seed funding we hope to secure in the very near future to kick-start the RL4ALEX concept.
We also envisage that in order to make the project happen we must build sustained partnerships with local communities, clubs, groups and cooperate clients. We are currently in the latter stages of negotiations to acquire a building in the Wigan area in which to base the project from, but through our efforts and successes to build a respected and quality reputation we would hope to secure an asset transfer as a way of ongoing support from the local Council.
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Thank you for your help, any further questions please ask, our charity email address is RL4ALEX@RL4ALEX.com if you could direst enquiries to that email please.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
Aug 01, 2020 0