Special Olympics Australia Wants More Sporting Organisations To Include People With Intellectual Disability

Special Olympics Australia has established a new program which it calls “Stepping Stones” that encourages more sporting organisations to include more participants that have intellectual disability into their club activities. The program will be rolled out nationally but is initially being started in a phased manner in Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Already does plenty of work

Special Olympics Australia already does plenty of work with people that are intellectually disabled, providing weekly sports training and competition in as many as 18 sports. However with half a million people living with intellectual disability, much more needs to be done to ensure that this group of disabled which is the largest in Australia has the opportunity to enjoy sport.

The money is available

Special Olympics Australia received a grant of $20,000 from Real Needs which will allow the organisation to develop relationships with sports clubs and coaches through its Stepping Stones programme. Special Olympics Australia will help clubs develop programs that include children that are intellectually disabled. It will also support club members to participate in competitions organised by Special Olympics Australia.

“Special Olympics Australia is about empowering individuals to focus on abilities rather than disabilities. Our goal is to build respect, understanding and inclusion of people with an intellectual disability by using the common language of sport.” Nicola Stokes, CEO, Special Olympics Australia said

People with disability benefit greatly from sport

A recent study undertaken by Break Thru People Solutions found that children with disabilities who participated in mainstream sport received psychosocial benefits that were incredibly important. What Stepping Stones is aiming to achieve is to take on the challenge of reducing the isolation that children with intellectual disability feel by having them participated in sporting activities.

“At present there are very few programs in Australia that can work with sporting clubs to develop inclusive programs and provide the training and resources needed to enable clubs to fully integrate children with an intellectual disability into their network. We want this program to foster inclusive practices, break down social barriers and provide opportunities into sporting pathways.” Terry Visscher, State Development Manager and Stepping Stones Coordinator, said,

“We hope that clubs and communities develop a better understanding of what people with an intellectual disability can do, rather than what they can’t by having them as part of their local sports programs.” Ms Stokes adds

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