Using judo to help people with special needs

Members of the Special Olympics Judo club at Raich Carter Centre, Sarah Scott and Laura Smith (front) Daniel Henaghan, Denise Henaghan, Heather Smith, Dominic Elliott and Drew Henaghan are appealing for more people to join.
Members of the Special Olympics Judo club at Raich Carter Centre, Sarah Scott and Laura Smith (front) Daniel Henaghan, Denise Henaghan, Heather Smith, Dominic Elliott and Drew Henaghan are appealing for more people to join.
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A JUDO expert is calling those with special needs to take up the sport.

Ron Smith has been running a Special Olympics judo class at Hendon’s Raich Carter Centre since 2009.

The Special Olympics are for those with educational needs.

“You’re dealing with a difficult group of people who are coping with a variety of things,” Ron said.

“It is quite interesting to train them in judo because they can forget things, other times they take longer to absorb something, then they can surprise you and pick things up straight away.”

Ron’s daughter Sarah Scott, 19, has Down’s syndrome and trains in judo. She won a bronze medal in the British Special Olympics in Leicester three years ago. Parents whose children go to Ron’s classes are also keen to get others involved.

Michelle Smith, 43, of Thorney Close, takes her daughters Laura, 11, and Heather, nine, to Ron’s judo class on a Saturday afternoon.

Heather, of Hasting Hill Primary School, is currently having chemotherapy to treat leukaemia.

“This is a great activity for those with special needs to get involved in,” Michelle said.

“Laura is doing well and hoping to compete in more competitions.

“Heather can’t fight at the moment because of treatment, but she still goes to watch and is hoping to compete again after this week.

“I think more people should know about the Special Olympic sport.

“It can give people something to focus on.”

Ron said: “Heather is interesting because she can’t take part at the moment but still comes along.

“The people we’ve got at the moment are doing well, and in the long term we are thinking about them taking part in international competitions.”

He added: “We can work with 10 people on the mat a once, and at the moment we have about seven or eight.”

Anyone interested in getting involved can go along to the centre, in Commercial Road, on Saturdays at 3pm.