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February saw the opening round of the 2020 Teesside Sprint series which Anna Kennedy online Autism ambassador Matty Street of Teamkarting was attending with his kart racing team. He is regularly joined by previous AKO Autism Hero Award winner Sandro Ballesteros who also races in this series in the junior category and offers support to the younger cadet drivers.

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This happened to coincide with a (back to her northern roots) visit by Anna Kennedy OBE who used the opportunity to come along with her son Angelo and check out what a kart racing weekend looks, sounds, and feels like. Teamkarting runs a very inclusive kart racing team which on race weekends has a high percentage of drivers with ASD.

All of these drivers have progressed to outdoor racing after getting their first taste at Teamkartings indoor track in Rochdale, Gtr Manchester, and many of these drivers started karting with help from Sandros’ Able Racing project, which he started with his father, to help others living with autism experience the benefits of karting.

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Sandro was diagnosed at three years old and has been racing karts since he was only 5, (winning his first championship age just seven), he is a regular at Teamkarting on their indoor track, assisting with their Autism friendly sessions, and driver coaching programs in the school holidays, offering advice and encouragement to all abilities.

Matty and Sandro have even travelled up to help on disability friendly days here at Teesside too.

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As well as running a business, his team, and a national championship, Matty will continue setting the example by getting behind the wheel this year with TeamBRIT, racing in the Britcar endurance series along with fellow Autism hero Bobby Trundley. They also head a Racing with Autism/TeamBRIT endurance kart team which includes some of the junior drivers.

It doesn’t have to lead to racing, it’s all about having fun and making friends. Karting is a great way to build confidence, socialize with others who have a similar interest.

The Autism friendly sessions Matty hosts at TeamKarting means there is somewhere for parents to chat and support each other too.

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There is a great atmosphere in the Teamkarting awning where everyone supports each other and is made to feel valued, welcome and accepted. Of course there is a desire to do well but the journey is about so much more than just racing.

Many children on the autism spectrum have a love of cars and karting can be the natural progression in that, and a great way to socialise and build self confidence, there are a number of factors which lend themselves well to kart racing too, extreme focus, determination, also the sensory feedback from the pressure of the protective equipment, and the G-forces involved in driving fast.

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