This week, over 450 children from primary schools across Greater Manchester took part in a tag rugby tournament at Carrington Lane training ground to champion children’s mental health with appearances from 19 Sale Sharks players, including stars Tom Curry, Manu Tuilagi and Jason Robinson OBE.
The ‘Are you AO-K’ tournament was hosted by online electricals retailer and Sale Sharks’ principal front of shirt sponsor, AO, alongside the charitable arm of Sale Sharks – Sharks Community Trust.
In total, nine schools and over 15 classes took part in the event to celebrate pupils completing the six-week ‘Are You AO-K’ curriculum. The programme has been delivered in local primary schools by the Sharks Community Trust team, who have used workshops and tag rugby lessons to raise awareness amongst children about positive mental health and wellbeing.
Throughout the day, each class had the opportunity to showcase the tag rugby skills they have been taught by coaches whilst participating in a thrilling knockout tournament spanning across eight training pitches. Each pitch was allocated two Sharks players, who were on hand to give pupils training tips and advice before each match.
All nine schools taking part also enjoyed a host of other activities with Sale Sharks and AO providing a DJ and fun inflatables to make the day one to remember.
With the challenges that young people have faced over the last two years due to the pandemic, the day provided a fantastic opportunity for local children to meet some of their sporting idols, whilst socialising with pupils from neighbouring areas for the first time in over two years.
Vicky Irwin, Community Manger at Sharks Community Trust said: “Are you AO-K has made such a valuable difference to young people right across the North West. We are so proud to be involved in this project and the impact that it has made. It’s fantastic to see the club’s principal partner working together with the Sharks Community Trust to support mental well-being and change lives in our region.”
Andrew Townsend, Deputy Head Teacher of St Stephens Kearsley Moore CE Primary School, said: “It’s wonderful that a well-known rugby team like Sale Sharks is doing what it can to look after their local community and to have a nationwide company backing ‘Are You AO-K’ is really fantastic.”
‘Are you AO-K’ is being taught in schools across the North West and the programme will run in 125 schools throughout the region over the next five years which means that hundreds of children will benefit from this ground-breaking scheme.