A young participant who has excelled in one of Ipswich Town Foundation’s initiatives presented Conor Chaplin and Wes Burns with their December awards earlier today.
Charlie was an attendee on the Foundation’s Mental Wellbeing & Physical Activity sessions, which began on World Mental Health Day in October 2022.
Run in partnership with NSFT (Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust), the eight-week programme offered a blended approach of classroom based activity alongside the opportunity to try out different sports.
Charlie progressed admirably through the initiative and built up the confidence to subsequently attend a Soccer School. As a surprise, he was invited down to Playford Road earlier today alongside his mum, Christina, and her partner, Aaron.
His day began with a brief tour of the training ground before going to watch Kieran McKenna and the coaching staff put the first-team squad through their paces ahead of Saturday’s away fixture at Oxford.
He then had the chance to meet the squad – including an emotional introduction to his favourite player Janoi Donacien – and coaching staff.
Charlie presented Conor Chaplin – who he had previously met at the first session of the Mental Wellbeing & Physical Activity – with his Greene King Player of the Month award for December and Wes Burns with the Goal of the Month trophy.
His day finished by having lunch with the players in the canteen and getting his 2022/23 home shirt signed by the squad.
Speaking about the impact the Mental Wellbeing & Physical Activity sessions had on him, Charlie said: “It was really good. It gave me good coping mechanisms and it taught me that it’s ok not to be ok.
“I’m feeling a lot better because I know how to combat my feelings and deal with my emotions better.
“Meeting a professional footballer [Conor] who can talk about mental health and how it effects everybody was really good, too.”
“He understands how to deal with those emotions better now,” Christina added.
“The staff have been so supportive of him and of me as well. It’s been really beneficial. It’s made an improvement at school and at home as well.
“I can’t really put what it means into words as it had been really tough. It’s immense.”
Beginning for EFL Week of Action, participants who have excelled within the Foundation’s various initiatives and/or people who have made an impact in the local community will have the opportunity to present the Player/Goal of the Month awards going forward.