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Thursday 18 October 2018

BSc (Hons) Sport Coaching and Development graduate, Lorimar Mason knew he wanted to give something back to pupils at the secondary school where he studied. Lorimar has ADHD, and initially he found school a struggle, and looked for any means to misbehave. Fortunately, it wasn't long before he realised that he wanted more for his life, turned things around, and eventually left school with good GCSEs. Now, Lorimar is working at his old secondary school as a teaching assistant and will soon be working towards gaining qualified teacher status.

Here, Lorimar tells us his story about what made him want to give back to the school that set him on his path to university and beyond.

Solent alumnus, Lorimar MasonHow did you get your initial placement?

I got it by staying in contact with my old secondary school. When I told the headteacher I was going to university she offered me any help or support she could - she knew my struggles with academia, so this kept me really motivated. In my second year she offered me a volunteer placement working one-to-one with a pupil who was much like I was - lost, angry, didn't want to listen and could only be swayed by sports. I worked really hard with him and it paid off - he started to settle down and his behaviour improved. When I was in my third year, the school offered me a paid part-time placement.

What happened next?

In May this year the school offered me a full-time position as a teaching assistant for a year. They will then help me to gain full qualified teacher status.

What does your role as a teaching assistant involve?

I help in all the PE lessons - we cover sports including padded tennis, football, basketball, badminton, cricket and athletics. I also cover nutrition and how the body moves. When I'm not helping in PE lessons, I help in other classes or do sport coaching activities with some of the pupils.

I work within an EBD (emotional, behavioural difficulties) school so I have had to deal with abuse and negativity from the pupils. A few of the pupils are on the autistic spectrum, which can impact their ability to perform to a certain level and behave appropriately.

What I love about my job is knowing that I'm helping the students understand sport, how their body functions, and the impacts on their health. Watching a pupil who struggles with a certain aspect of a sport learn from me to be able to do it is incredibly rewarding.

I also want to show that, just because EBD pupils are classed as 'special needs', it doesn’t mean we can’t be successful or 'have' to act in a certain or different way. I worked extremely hard to get into university and it took me five years to complete a three-year degree, but I wouldn’t let anything stop me from getting to where I wanted, so these pupils shouldn’t either. I want to try to change someone’s life or help them grow, just like my teachers did for me.

How did Solent support you during your studies?

Solent supported me more than it should have! The student service was extremely helpful - any problem I had, they would help me as much as they possibly could. My tutors were amazing - any time I emailed them or even called them, the would offer advice and support. My course leader offered me unbelievable help throughout my degree - he helped me through my lowest and deepest times, and because of him I got to where I needed to go.

What's your favourite Solent memory?

My best memory is my friends. The amount of laughter and smiles shared with them is unquantifiable. The support and help we all got from each other is one of a kind. I made friends at university, and finished university with new family.