Young people with a disability often face physical and social barriers when attempting to participate in sport, leading to isolation and healthy lifestyle issues.
Special Olympics Australia’s Community Sports Link program, supported by nib foundation, is helping overcome these hurdles by taking sports activities, skills development and competitions to schools and community groups across both metropolitan and regional Western Australia.
Special Olympics Australia State Manager, Di Bruce, said the program provides primary and high school students with a disability the opportunity to participate in a range of sports in a friendly and welcoming environment.
“Almost 65% of people with an intellectual disability don’t participate in sport as they have little choice in how and where they can participate,” Mrs Bruce said.
“The Community Sports Link program introduces young students with a disability in Western Australia to new sports and physical activities bringing to their attention their abilities to participate in sport, with provision of ongoing programs at local sports clubs that the students can filter into immediately” she added.
Featuring multi-sport ribbon and sports skills development days, the program supports 1,000 students from almost 40 schools across the region.
nib foundation Chairman, Keith Lynch, said that in addition to the physical benefits participants gain from taking part in the activities, the program will also help them increase their self-esteem and confidence leading to greater social inclusion.
“We are proud to support this unique program that combines the transformative power of sport with a holistic approach to athlete wellbeing,” Mr Lynch said.
“The program provides a welcoming environment where these young students with an intellectual disability are included, accepted and can enjoy the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle,” he said.
This Friday the program will celebrate the culmination of its first six-week program with an inter-school soccer carnival day at nib Stadium. Hosted by representatives from Football West and students from the SEDA program, the carnival will see 80 students from six local high schools take part in a skills clinic and soccer competition.