Impact

IMPACT

There is overwhelming evidence the first five years of children’s lives are critical for growth, development and learning capacity and participation in sport can be crucial for child development. Participating in sport also contributes to families building strong connections in the community. Our coaches (volunteers and contractors) are dedicated to providing children with life skills, enhancing social and physical wellbeing to assist transition to school. We have had considerable success with our approach recording the following outcomes in children’s IEP’s: 

• generalisation of speech and language skills,
• increases in receptive language abilities,
• improvements in gross motor planning,
• development of friendships leading to enhancements in social awareness, understanding of new concepts and an ability to transition to mainstream activities

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Since our inception in February 2011, over 300 children have accessed the Next Step program.

The Foundation has successfully transitioned 37% of children to mainstream Soccajoeys programs.

The Foundation has also supported the transition of 24 children to mainstream local Football clubs. 27 children are currently attending Next Step classes for free.

Our Foundation transitions on average 4 children per term to mainstream programs.

Eva Pym

‘Next Step has given Eva more confidence in her ability through the coach’s enthusiasm and encouragement. She loves going every week and is always so excited to be part of the team. Programs like Next Step are extremely hard to find, so we feel very lucky to be a part of it. We love how it promotes inclusion and caters to all abilities. The program has helped our family greatly as Eva has a sport to look forward to every week instead of her early intervention therapy every afternoon. Each week we are overjoyed to see her skill level improve as it’s something we were told would not be possible in her early years. 

Also, I’ll add that Eva wanted to be like her brother and play soccer and would get frustrated going to his games and to not be able to join in and we couldn’t see it being the right fit for her current abilities, so Next Step bridges that gap and now she loves playing soccer with her brother all the time as it’s also given her greater understanding of the game. Seeing her run and jump and keep up with everyone is something we never thought we would see and there have been a few happy tears shed on the sideline watching her achieve these gross motor skills 

Alison Mother of Ben

Six-year-old Ben Speechley, of Kellyville, started the  Next Step program about three years ago. Ben has Linear Nevus Sebaceous Syndrome, a rare condition that affects his eyes and results in low muscle tone and hypermobility. Ben’s mum Allison said the program has given her son confidence and improved his balance, muscle strength, co-ordination and social skills. “The things they do in class is the sort of stuff we’re doing in physio … but he doesn’t really feel like it’s physio,” she said.

Christine mother of Zachary

“I feel attending Next Foundation programs every Friday is like going to a family gathering because strangers have become my family. Each week, I not only celebrate Zachary’s achievements but each and every other child’s as well. Next Step is a pressure-free environment where our kids can confidently receive the right amount of encouragement from their coaches to reach their goals. Zachary enjoys interacting with his coaches and peers each week and as a parent that makes me extremely happy!”

Vicki, mother Adrianna& George

“For Adrianna, who was essentially nonverbal, her gross motor skills and cognitive skills dramatically improved, especially taking instruction, and it was great for her socially. Because of her developmental delays, it’s taken her a few years to reap the long term benefits but now other Next Step parents comment on how high functioning she is. For George, his issues were mainly behavioural in that he wouldn’t listen. He showed almost immediate improvement and quickly transitioned to mainstream programs and club programs. The socialisation aspect was the hardest for him and now no one can even tell he’s on the spectrum.” 

Odna Sukhbat mother of Sanchir

Sanchir, has Brain Encephalitis due to a brain infection. Next Step has helped Sanchir by helping him feel included and part of a team with no adverse outcome. Sanchir was diagnosed with cancer then a short while later he relapsed, and from this, his immunity was very poor which he then brought on/suffered a brain injury. This brought on seizures, and when out and about he needs to wear a helmet and his harness to avoid damage by the way he is cancer free- in remission. Sanchir has had to relearn to do just about everything a ‘normal’ 6 years old is expected to do. He continues to develop his language skills as he is still non-verbal but has a communication device/ board which he can access to use for his needs and wants to express himself. With this program, it is teaching him to listen to instructions, follow directions, be part of team, further develop his gross motor skills, cognition, have fun and also start to make friends with his other teammates, parents, and coaches. He also looks forward to seeing everyone each week. And without Next Step Sanchir wouldn’t able to attend his age group in sports because of his special needs and from a parents perspective, this makes my family feel included in being able to access ‘team sports’ for and with my son. Also I as a mum can relate to the other parents at Next Step as we are dealing with children with disabilities and also having access to them to form friendships and also referring to them by not feeling different. My husband Billy enjoys helping out each week holding Sanchir and seeing the progress of overall development with him, and it’s and it’s been a pleasant experience for our family after much hardship’.

Carolyn mum of Alex

Alex has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with picture from sponsorship pack ’The Soccajoeys Next Step program has helped my child to participate fully in a smaller setting with fewer distractions and at a pace well suited to him. It also enables him to practise his coordination with ball skills, assist with social skills, waiting his turn and following through with multiple step instructions on what he is expected to do in a group setting. These are all skills we take for granted that a neurotypical child can do but is, in fact, is hard work for a child with additional needs to achieve. The Next Step program is very important to a child with additional needs. It enables them to be included in a program where the environment will suit them best. Its a smaller class and the instructions on what they are expected to do is broken down into smaller steps which include modelling. It is also great that they can slowly transition children into their mainstream class when they are ready. It’s a very inclusive program with the best expertise from staff knowing how to involve children to reach their full potential. As a family, we have also benefited by creating a social network of friendships amongst all parents we meet each week. It’s a great supportive networking of families going through the same challenges as yourself and knowing you are not alone in this journey’

We have continued to explore and experiment with a diverse range of learning and development strategies to ensure that every child that attends the program is given the absolute best chance of progressing and enhancing their emerging skills. We have successfully transitioned 37% of our children to mainstream programs, having also supported 23 children register in their local grassroots soccer club. The foundation has delivered it’s programs to 330 children since it’s inception. In recent years we have also expanded our services into schools. Partnering with local primary schools to provide our program to special needs students that have already transitioned to school. The School Hub program promotes inclusive practices and increases social engagement for children feeling disengaged.

A recent SBS promotion of our charity via social media generated 25,000 views and over 140 written expressions of interest. We know our program works and that families and children benefit greatly once engaged.