Dec: “If you really want something and work hard, then you can do anything.”
Student, volunteer and member of Bristol City Robins Foundation’s award-winning youth council, Dec Stone, hasn’t let autism stop him from making a positive change in his community and he continues to inspire those around him.
Dec says: “People shouldn’t really see autism as a disability or think that just because someone is autistic it means that they cannot do things. If you really want something and work hard, then you can do anything.”
Dec was selected to be part of the Robins Foundation’s Youth Council – a body of eight young people who use their understanding of challenges faced by the local community to help shape the Foundation’s delivery. Whilst Dec was a shy and introverted individual to start with, he quickly grew in confidence and has become a central member of the council over the four years in which he has been a member.
Over this period the Council have helped the Robins Foundation launch initiatives such as the award winning free female fitness & football hub and a social inclusion session in an area of deprivation within Bristol. This provision now engages with over 80 young people per session and has a resulted in a drastic reduction in criminal activity in the area that it operates in.
The incredible work of Dec and the rest of the Youth Council has been recognised at a national level with the body of youngsters picking up awards from both the EFL and the FA.
Dec’s involvement with the Robins Foundation however does not stop there as he also studies with the Foundation on its unique Sports Media education course. Dec has thrived on this course and was commended for his hard work and dedication at last year’s Foundation education awards evening.
In addition to this, Dec also volunteers on a number of the Robins Foundation’s projects including the social inclusion session – which he and the youth council played a pivotal role in establishing – and the Foundation’s disability football project.
Dec is an inspiration to the participants of the disability football project where he acts as a role model to the youngsters who attend the sessions.
Jenny, a parent of one of the participants at Bristol City Robins Foundation’s disability football project, said: “My son Sean – who has autism – has not engaged in anything before, but he loves coming to the football sessions with the Robins Foundation.
“The team are fantastic, in particular Declan, who could really relate to Sean. Declan made him them feel at ease and took away any pressure.”
Janice, a grandparent of another one of the youngsters at the Robins Foundation’s disability football sessions commented: “My grandson is autistic and thoroughly enjoys his time at the Foundation’s Tuesday evening disability session. It gives him the opportunity to do a sport that would otherwise not be available to him.
“The staff are so patient with the children, it’s a pleasure to watch the children engage with them whist teaching them new skills and not being judged because of their special needs.”
Dec told the Foundation: “When I first started at the Youth Council, I was way out of my comfort zone. However, I did not let this dissuade me from perusing my goals, and I am so proud of all that we have achieved.”