FAMILIES followed in the footsteps of their footballing heroes as part of a special ceremony at SAFC.
To mark their completion of the Foundation of Light’s Learning through Football programme, 250 families were invited along to the home of the Black Cats for a graduation event and tour of the stadium.
Over the course of 10 weeks, parents were invited into their kids’ schools across Wearside to take part in free sessions which use the power of football to engage families in educational activities.
Linzi Dudley, 34, took part in the course at New Penshaw Academy with daughter Madison, five, and family friends Olivia Smith, five, and Aidan Smith, 10.
“The course was brilliant,” said Linzi. “It was great to spend time with Madison in school and to learn how the kids learn.”
Olivia said: “The course was really good fun, my favourite bit was making Christmas baubles.”
Katie Sandford, 28, and her daughters Morgan Hunter, eight, and Jaymee Hunter, seven, also took part in sessions at New Penshaw Academy.
“We absolutely loved it,” she said. “It was a great way of picking up techniques on how to help them with their homework.”
Michael Colclough, assistant head-learning at the foundation, said: “Over the course of the 10 weeks, we do courses on mental health, child development, fitness, nutrition, maths and English.
“It’s two hours a week in total, with their first hour involving just the adults, then the kids are invited in for the second hour for fun and games.
“You see quite dramatic changes in the families that take part - from one parent who came off mental health medication and went back to work at the end of the course, to others who just gain confidence from the course.
“Having that one-on-one time with their kids away from home and the usual routine is important too.”
Each year, the SAFC charity Foundation of Light provides activities and sessions for 42,000 children and adults across the North East.