Sports for all abilities

Lakya Saunders, Bianca Steel, Fatima Shaid and Cheyanne Davis on the run. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 060516GOB03
Lakya Saunders, Bianca Steel, Fatima Shaid and Cheyanne Davis on the run. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 060516GOB03

STUDENTS with disabilities have made new friends and learnt new skills as part of Tamworth’s first Activate Inclusion Multi-Sports Day.

The event was three years in the making and a joint initiative of Tamworth Regional Council, Ability Links, Sport NSW and Blind Sport NSW.

Pathfinders ability linker Rebecca Browning said they wanted to encourage community sharing through sport between people with disabilities and able-bodied people.

“We want to build awareness and inclusion for people with a disability,” she said.

“We are looking at a sports inclusion day run every Saturday.”

Sport NSW disability inclusion promotion officer Murray Elbourn came from Sydney for the day and said he was targeting 12 regions in which to introduce people with disabilities to sport.

“We make adaptions so that students with disabilities can flourish and achieve on a level playing field,” he said.

“Tamworth has already done a fantastic job with the Ability Festival and we want to partner with schools through the Department of Education and Training to promote these adaptable sports, including futsal, goal ball, tennis and cricket.” 

Mr Elbourn said he would return in term four to work with more sports, including AFL, rugby league and netball.

“We are looking to implement goal ball for students with disabilities, because they can play with their able-bodied peers and create school teams. It is a Pacific School Games sport, so it’s an opportunity for kids to have a chance to represent NSW in the Pacific Games,” he said.

Mr Elbourn said sport offered plenty of social and emotional benefits, through reinforcing achievements and belief in participants.

“They can also build their friendship network of students going through similar challenges at school,” he said.

He said sport could also link mainstream students with students with disabilities.

Ms Browning said the Ability Links Festival of Abilities was planned for July 9, involving Wheelchair Sports, Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Vision Australia, and, as well as sports, there will be arts and crafts and other services in Tamworth.