The Newcastle Knights provided a group of special students from Aspect Hunter School an exciting opportunity to join their sporting heroes at training on Tuesday morning at Wests Mayfield.
The visit coincided with the launch of World Autism Awareness Month, which takes place across the world during the month of April.
Themed “Colour the Spectrum”, the campaign kicks off on April 2 when all Australians are encouraged to celebrate the diversity and difference within the Autism community with a spectrum of colours.
The Newcastle Knights teamed up with Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) to help celebrate the campaign and were happy to host the students at a Knights training session before a meet and greet session with the players.
The majority of the students visiting the training session have never attended a Knights’ home game due to their sensory sensitivities to large crowds and loud noises.
The visit to Knights training provided the opportunity to them to meet their heroes in a safe and controlled environment.
Aspect Hunter School Principal, Ms Liz Murray, said the support of the Newcastle Knights was invaluable in promoting greater awareness of Aspect as well as an understanding of the challenges faced by its students every day.
“Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects around one in 100 people. There is no know reason why it occurs and there isn’t any cure,” Ms Murray explained.
“The condition affects the way those living with the disorder relate to their environment and interact with other people. The main areas of difficulty are in social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.
Ms Murray was thrilled to see so many smiling faces during the visit to the Knights.
“They are really excited and I think some of the parents are as excited as the students," she said.
“This is a great opportunity for our kids to come out and meet the Knights and to have a bit of fun together and I think they are all having a fantastic time.
Aspect Hunter School provides specialised education support for many children across the Hunter who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Aspect Hunter’s Base School is located at Thornton, while satellite classes also operate in mainstream schools in the Hunter.
The Clubs’ support will continue at Hunter Stadium on Saturday when the Knights take on the St George Illawarra Dragons.
The Club will be promoting World Autism Awareness Month throughout the match day and will provide a unique opportunity for students from Aspect Hunter School will participate in a guard of honour as the NRL teams run onto Hunter Stadium under a balloon arch of colour to support the spectrum of colours in the autism community.
“With a big crowd expected at the match on 4 April, we hope that many more people will walk away from Hunter Stadium knowing more about the needs of people with autism and the challenges that face in their everyday life," Ms Murray concluded.