Photo above: By JMPUK
College student Nino Genua was an important part of Bristol Sport’s annual gala dinner at the Ashton Gate Stadium.
Nino, who has Down’s Syndrome, started at Bath College in September 2017 as a LILS (Life and Independent Living Skills) student.
Before this, he was one of the first participants to take part in the Spectrum Project, run by the Bristol Rugby Community Foundation.
Nino with Kris Tavener, from the Spectrum Project
The Spectrum Project gives young people with special educational needs and disabilities the chance to get involved with life at Bristol Rugby.
Nino, 18, had the chance to work in the club shop, in the fan zone on match days, and also took on journalism tasks, such as interviewing players.
He is one of the Spectrum Project’s success stories and was invited to the dinner just before Christmas to share his story.
Nino’s time at the Spectrum Project has helped him believe in himself and progress well on the LILS course at Bath College.
Due to his hard work, he was crowned regional winner for Volunteer of the Year at the Premiership Rugby Parliamentary Awards in 2016.
In September 2017, Nino was offered a volunteer post as assistant coach for the project alongside his mentor and manager Kris Tavener.
Outside of college, he spends his time coaching members of the Adult Walking Rugby team at Ashton Gate and pupils at New Fosseway School in Hengrove.
He is a keen footballer, playing regularly with the Keynsham Mencap Football Club, as well as vice-captain of the Bristol Sharks Swimming Team and a Special Olympics competition swimmer.
Nino’s mum Sharon is proud of her son and is looking forward to seeing what he achieves in the future.
She said: “The Spectrum Project has offered Nino untold opportunities. They all believe in his ability, worth and role as a valued member of their team.
“So far he has been very happy on the LILS course at Bath College, and as parents we have found all staff involved with Nino to be supportive and understanding of his educational needs.
“If he can, he would like to attend the Vocational Access Programme (VAP) for sport at the college, but if not he wants to increase the number of days working at Bristol Rugby.
“At the dinner he introduced himself to Lee Johnson and arranged to do some work with him, so watch this space for Nino’s next adventure into the world of football, there is no stopping him!”