Leah Williamson has had a fine season on the pitch - and her work off it has been just as impressive.
Back in December the 21-year-old attended an Arsenal in the Community event at The Hub, with the intention of rewarding one of our BTEC students with a signed shirt for her continued support of the Women’s team.
That event was North London United, a weekly programme designed to provide children and young adults with Down syndrome the opportunity to play football.
Williamson instantly clicked with the group - and since then she’s joined them for a kickabout, invited them to an Arsenal Women fixture, and provided positive support online.
We asked Leah about the importance of World Down Syndrome Day - and this is what she said:
on why it’s important to support World Down Syndrome Day...
I think Arsenal is a really inclusive club and I don’t think people should ever be restricted as fans because of certain circumstances. It makes me so happy knowing that we can provide this support because the world really can be a nasty place at times. The more love we share the better. I just love spending time with the kids whenever I go down there.
on why she wanted to be involved in the North London United group…
The Hub in general is just an unbelievable set-up and organisation that Arsenal have. I went down once to see how the girls from the BTEC course are doing and I just fell in love with the kids. I spent time with them in their session and now whenever I get the chance I’ll pop down for an hour and have a kickabout with them in a safe place.
on being able to make a difference…
Initially I was thinking that I don’t want to intrude or distract them from their session because I don’t really want to coach, I just want to join in with them! It’s nice to just share a bit of love with them and even if they have no idea who I am the next time I go there, at least that one time we had a bit of fun and we were able to put some smiles on people's faces.
on the importance of leaving no one behind…
As I’ve said before, I don’t think anybody should be restricted in terms of what they want to do with their life. With what we have nowadays and the support we can offer, we can genuinely make a difference. With the education that we all receive these days there’s no excuse for anybody to be left out in my opinion - and especially for people with Down syndrome, the extent of it can be really tough and it can a take a real toll on families. It’s different, but different doesn’t mean that it’s wrong or that we can’t help. We just have to adjust and help wherever we can.
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