A small school located immediately across the road from the entrance to the Sharks at Kareela Club, Bates Drive Special School caters for students from kindergarten to year 12 with moderate to severe intellectual and physical disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder and complex health care and behavioural needs, offering an invaluable educational service in the Sutherland Shire.
With a large proportion of students being non-verbal communicators, teaching and learning at Bates Drive School is delivered through a variety of fun individualised, hands-on and multi-sensory approaches that promote and encourage communication, community participation, self-help and emotional regulation skills.
Which is where a couple of Sharks squad members come in, with Kayal Iro and Ryan Rivett lending a helping hand at Bates Drive School over the past year to the benefit of both the students and the two young players themselves.
Arranged by Sharks Education and Welfare Manager Jeff Robson and endorsed by Bates Drive Principal David Toogood, as Student Learning Support Officers, Iro and Rivett spent their time away from training and playing doing what they could to enhance the educational experience for all concerned.
“The Cronulla boys were an enormous asset to Bates Drive,” Toogood said. “Having Kayal and Ryan at Bates Drive School supported our students to actively participate in a school-based sports program that is tailored to suit each students’ individual needs and interests while also learning fundamental movement skills and games.
“The extra support they provided ensured that each students’ participation and engagement in the activities was maximised, this in turn creating a program that all students and staff looked forward to each week,” Toogood continued.
“Movement skills are a core component of supporting our students to stay emotionally regulated, build play and communication skills and maintain a healthy and active lifestyle,” he added.
When Covid restrictions allowed, Iro working at the school throughout the year, Rivett until a shoulder reconstruction mid-season saw him head home to Queensland to rehabilitate and recover.
For Iro, who is currently training with the Sharks NRL squad and will initially suit up for the Newtown Jets when the 2022 season gets underway, it was a rewarding experience and he hopes to continue to contribute when school resume in the New Year.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my days at Bates Drive, working with the staff and students and hope to possibly be able to join them again next year,” Iro said.
While Rivett, now on a development contract which will see him train fulltime with the NRL squad during the 2022 season, is keen to continue an association with Bates Drive School into the future.
“It is going to be a little harder for me to get to the school on a regular basis next year however I’d love to drop by and help out where I can if the opportunity came up. It’s a fantastic school and they do an outstanding job,” Rivett said.
The two young Sharks were placed at Bates Drive School by Robson, who through the Club’s Wellbeing and Education program assists the playing group with educational and employment opportunities outside of their regular game and training commitments.