An innovative sports group has served up success for a teenager with Asperger syndrome who suffered badly from bullying as he grew up.
Dion McLean (17) is celebrating after winning a string of awards at Tennis Aces.
The group, which meets at Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre under the guidance of head coach Allwyn Crawford, actively promotes sporting activites for those who have a learning disability and other additional support needs.
As well as being named club champion, Dion is the recipient of other group awards – the Saltire Award and the Sasha MacNab Memorial Award for achievement.
Dion from Kilsyth, said: “Growing up, my mum put me into many different sport clubs such as Taekwondo and football but bullying ruined my devotion and desire. Even at school I got bullied verbally and physically because I was different from other children.
“My enjoyment of sports was slowly fading until mum heard about the Tennis Aces. She wanted me to try it to meet new friends and to keep fit.
“As the weeks went on I realised I could be good at this sport and started to believe in myself with the help from the players, volunteers and of head coach Allwyn Crawford.
“Right now I have achieved many certificates such as the saltire award, basic first aid and introduction to tennis leaders course. I was also the club champion.
“I am also a volunteer, helping Allwyn at the Saturday sessions and preparing myself for level one in coaching.
“I never thought I would have done so much in this year to boost my confidence. This help has made me more determined at my school subjects. I would definitely recommend Tennis Aces to anyone with additional support needs.”
Mum Yvonne said: “We are so proud of Dion for being able to accomplish so much.
“Dion was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, leaky gut syndrome and blue panic attacks as a young child.
“As Dion’s disability is not visible the other children just knew he was different and started to bully him, even at school. This escalated and Dion would spend hours crying which was very worrying for the family.
“I found out about Tennis Aces and thought this may help Dion. At first his response was ‘Will I get bullied?’ heart-wrenching for a mum to hear.
“But since Dion has joined Tennis Aces, the family and his school teachers have seen a big change in his attitude to life. He is more outgoing, happy in himself, more helpful with everyone”.