Club team up with Park School to enhance matchday experiences

Kilmarnock Women’s players made a surprise appearance at a local ASN school located at the Grange Academy on Thursday 1st December to kick-off a new partnership designed to improve matchday experiences for deaf and hearing-impaired supporters at the BBSP Stadium, Rugby Park.   

Women’s first-team members Laura McLaughlin, Abby Robinson and Holly Kerrigan were amongst those who joined Captain Conker and the club’s community team at the Park School’s Christmas Fayre to launch the initiative.

The partnership will see the club and school collaborate to produce deaf-awareness signage which will be bespokely developed by the pupils, with the aim of increasing the accessibility of matchdays and improving the overall experience for hearing-impaired supporters, both in and around the stadium. The new signage is set to be on display in time for the men’s first team squad’s home match against Aberdeen on Wednesday, 28th December.

The new relationship will also create volunteering opportunities for the pupils, with youngsters to be given the chance to assist other deaf and hearing-impaired supporters on matchdays.

To launch the partnership, players and staff delighted over 500 pupils by visiting the Park School’s Christmas fayre to browse more than 10 unique Christmas stalls – ranging from homemade snacks, knitwear, and board games to toys made for young people with additional support needs – created by the talented youngsters aged 4-18.

Pupils in attendance had a fun-filled afternoon playing ‘Beat The Goalie’ alongside the players, before testing their knowledge on a Captain Conker themed quiz: won by Jacob from Primary 1 who was rewarded with a Killie football and a copy of ‘Captain Conker and the Dastardly plan’. Jacob was “ecstatic” when the team delivered his prize to the class, stating that he couldn’t wait to get home to show his parents.

Laura McLaughlin, Kilmarnock Women’s Captain, commented: “We had a brilliant morning at the Park School Christmas Fayre. It means so much to us to attend events like these. Seeing the smiles on children’s faces by simply playing football with them is an incredible feeling.”

Carol-Anne Burns, Headteacher of the school, added: “Park School was delighted to be supported by Kilmarnock Football Club at our Christmas Fayre. Kilmarnock Women’s first-team and the club mascot, Captain Conker, spent the morning with Park School pupils and families in support of the school.

“We are also excited to be working in partnership with Kilmarnock Football Club to build inclusivity. Park School will soon facilitate BSL lessons with the club via weekly sessions in a venture which will support the club and football community while increasing deaf awareness.”

Jordan Allison, Charity Manager at Kilmarnock FC, commented: “The visit marked an exciting step forward in KCST’s partnership with the Park School. Our community team meet young supporters in schools across Ayrshire every day, engaging with them on how to make matchdays at Rugby Park as welcoming and inclusive as possible. The Park School has some of the most knowledgeable and passionate supporters, and so we loved introducing the women’s first-team to their pupils, and continuing our work on our Deaf Aware project.

“This season so far we have donated 633 tickets to pupils across 23 schools, with many young people coming along for their very first time. We thank Jim Chapman, Laura McLaughlin and the team for visiting with us, in addition to their amazing donation of toys and gifts.”

The visit was the first of eight fayres that the Kilmarnock Football Club community team will attend throughout December. This school term so far, the community team has already worked within 23 local schools, reaching over 5,750 young people across Ayrshire.