Derby County midfielder Bradley Johnson took a break from pre-season training to officially open the brand-new multi use games arena (MUGA) at a city special school which he helped to raise funds for.
St Giles School, in Hampshire Road, began fundraising for the MUGA – an all-purpose sports court suitable for football, netball, tennis and basketball – just over two years ago.
And together with his wife Nereasha, the Johnson family raised over £30,000 for the project by hosting a gala dinner at Pride Park Stadium last April.
The ribbon on the MUGA was cut during a glitzy ceremony at St Giles, with the Johnson family being joined by the Derby County Community Trust and mascot Rammie, plus sponsors including Rolls-Royce Leisure Football Club, The Ingles Charitable Trust, school Parent, Teacher Association (PTA) and Maddy’s Smile.
“I first visited St Giles School in 2017 and I was overwhelmed by the dedication and great lengths that the teachers, parents and those on the PTA go to for the wonderful, charismatic children at the school. So both my wife and I made it our aim to help raise the funds for the completion of the MUGA.
“Not only did the Gala raise an incredible £30,000, it also, most importantly, raised a lot of awareness for an amazing school.”
St Giles’ Executive Headteacher, Clive Lawrence, said: “The MUGA looks fantastic and I can’t wait for our children to use it as part of their outdoor learning and well-being curriculum.”
“You could see on the faces of the children how happy and excited they were when we cut the ribbon on the MUGA.
“Being able to access the MUGA as part of play time, outdoor learning and as part of their PE sessions will help us to promote physical activity and disability sport here at St Giles School.”
The MUGA, which will enable youngsters at the Ofted ‘Outstanding’ rated school, has two basketball hoops, football goals and a specially carpeted floor which is suitable for wheelchair users.
The school have also been donated a roundabout for youngsters to enjoy, thanks to Blueberry Products.
St Giles School PTA chairman Allan Perry and vice chairman David Martins have played a key role in securing the funding. Mr Martins, whose daughter, Layla, attends the Derby school, said: “The children at St Giles all have special educational needs and face many challenges on a daily basis; one being their gross and fine motor skills. Gross motor skills are movements which involve the larger muscle groups while fine motor skills are the co-ordination of small muscles used for things like writing.
“There has been extensive research which shows that if children struggle with this, then they are hindered in other areas of learning. Something as simple as sitting at the table to have their lunch can be difficult – the children can find it tiring. It’s something which we take for granted.
“The PTA have embarked on many large-scale projects over the last three or four years and the MUGA is the latest. All children will have access to the MUGA, which will provide a dedicated exercise area so that they can learn a variety of different physical skills.
“We are extremely grateful to everyone who has helped with the MUGA.”
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