Katie Richardson’s story
Members of our Inclusive Volunteering Media Club have been working collaboratively on a project about the Learning Disability Super League (LDSL). It’s called Our Stories. The idea behind the campaign is to tell the unique stories of the players who play in the LDSL, aiming to spread awareness of the benefits to being a part of these incredible teams, and why more people with learning disabilities should try and get involved.
Our colleague Gareth Walker interviewed each participant to find out their stories. We’re proud to share Katie’s words here:
For Katie Richardson, the impact of being involved in the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League has extended well beyond the field of play.
Katie has autism, and is a member of the Warrington Wolves LDSL team which played at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park on Magic Weekend in 2022.
But the opportunities offered to Katie, beyond rugby, have been genuinely life-changing. Katie has become a member of our Media and Photography Clubs, providing her with unique sporting experiences that have transformed her confidence levels.
Through inclusive volunteering projects run in partnership with Sport England, Katie has performed media roles at Super League and Women’s Euros matches, taking photographs that have been published in national outlets from a pitch side position, and interviewing leading coaches after the games.
She has always had a passion for sport, and rugby league and football in particular, and becoming a highly-active member of the Photography and Media Clubs has allowed her to use that interest in a positive way.
“Katie’s confident has grown hugely,” Community Integrated Care’s Media Club Lead, Rachael Biggs explained.
“From being quite nervous about joining us at the start, and not wanting to turn on her camera, she has gone to sharing her thoughts and ideas with ease, interviewing others, and being interviewed on camera. The change is really inspiring for us to see. She has consistently impressed me with her ability to produce fantastic content in any format I ask. Some standouts were her Vox Pop interview videos and match reports during the Women’s Euros, and she always produces high-quality work and has taken on board the learnings in our sessions.
“She is also always so kind and supportive of others in the group too, and this never goes unnoticed. She should be extremely proud of herself.”
Katie herself has relished becoming involved in Community Integrated Care’s extensive work around the Learning Disability Super League.
She explained: “Just because you have autism doesn’t mean you can’t do things. My disability has helped me achieve things I didn’t know I could do.
“To start with I was really nervous, but as I got involved in Community Integrated Care, getting more experience through the Media Club, I’ve gained more confidence. I’ve made lots of new friends there. I got to walk onto the pitch, take photos of the players and the atmosphere and got to interview the Warrington Wolves coach Daryl Powell. It’s a memory I won’t forget for the rest of my life. I’ve accepted my autism and I like it – I’m proud to have it. It has given me some barriers but over time I’ve learned to overcome them. That inspires me to be better. Community Integrated Care has really changed my life.”
Katie’s growing confidence has not gone unnoticed by her fellow Media Club members, including Matt Price, who has worked alongside her at several major sporting events.
Matt said: “Katie is inspirational. To know somebody that’s overcome so much is great – she’s channeled her autism into sport. Seeing her grow in confidence has been amazing to see. Friendship is massive for unlocking people’s confidence. Knowing that Katie is there is great because you know that she will be there for you no matter what. I love to help people in the team, and Katie does too.
“We’ve grown as people together. Katie can do anything she sets her mind to!”
Matt’s sentiments are shared by Community Integrated Care Sports Inclusion Team Leader Kurtis Marsh. He added: “You can see that Katie’s inspired her other team-mates, just by them witnessing her confidence grow. The connections she’s made have had an impact on other people’s confidence.
“The Learning Disability Super League allows people with learning disabilities to play an adapted version of rugby league for the teams they love and emulate their heroes on the pitch.
“There are thousands of people like Katie out there, sitting in their rooms, not knowing what incredible things they’re capable of with a bit of support, and opportunity to test their skills. If you give life a chance, anything is possible, so give it a go!”