Charlie's Story | Norwich City Community Sports Foundation

Story added: 24th August 2022

“His personal development has soared since joining the programme”

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Pinner has been a participant with the Community Sports Foundation for over nine years now.

During this time, he has benefitted from nearly 200 sessions across the Foundation’s programmes.

He is now a regular and popular member of the Realising Potential programme, funded by Norfolk Hire, the Premier League Professional Footballers’ Association and City Giving contributions, which looks to improve participants’ physical and social skills by offering a wide range of sports and activities, as well as career guidance for their next steps in life.

Charlie has William’s syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects his motor skills and physical development. As a result of this, Charlie sometimes has troubles with his balance, is sensitive to noise and is forward and outgoing when meeting people for the first time.

Charlie’s parents, Mark and Cheryl, were very keen to sign Charlie up to the free programme, stating:

“He’s understood here. It gives him the chance to socialise with kids his age and to learn new skills, whilst also giving him the opportunity to be active and not behind a screen.”

Charlie showcased his charismatic personality and politeness when he first met our Realising Potential Officer, Ellie Dickinson – with Ellie being new to the Foundation, it was Charlie that helped Ellie feel at home.

When he initially started the programme, Charlie was adamant he didn’t want to join in with particular activities, such as pool, table-football and PlayStation. As the weeks and sessions went by, he became encouraged by both our staff members and other programme participants to try new activities, whilst giving him the space and safety to practise on his own terms.

Now, Charlie enjoys an array of sports and activities, with his favourites being football, hockey, cricket and rounders, which are put on at The Nest.

Charlie’s parents recently had this to say about Nest:

“We love the Nest. It’s an amazing facility and it caters for all. Charlie loves Challenge Woods as its outside and very sensory for children of all needs.

“The Nest and the programme provide such a safe space. In fact, the first time we left Charlie outside of school hours was with the Foundation because we knew he was going to be safe and well looked after.”

Using his bubbly personality and new-found confidence, Charlie has undertaken a leadership role within the group, which is to welcome the new participants to the group, and to show them what we get up to and how we run the sessions.

According to Ellie, his leadership helps “ease them into the programme more comfortably”.

She went on to add, “I have also noticed, in terms of Charlie’s personal development, that he’s more willing to give everything a go, and is more confident when talking and playing with others.”

Charlie continues to attend every session with excitement and his rapport with Ellie is ever-growing, with him recently stating, “Ellie is the best possible leader”.

Charlie’s parents, also praised Ellie, saying:

“Ellie has been fantastic, warm, welcoming and approachable.

“She’s built a good relationship with us and the other parents and has a real knowledge of Charlie’s and other children’s needs.”

Charlie also recently got the chance to meet former Norwich City player, Christoph Zimmerman and current player, Tony Springett, and even take some pictures with him which he described as “amazing”. He was later awarded with his very own Realising Potential certificate, which is a credit to his hard work and good nature.

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