Sports on the Spectrum

As a parent, there are many concerns around COVID and the welfare of our children. But one definite concern for me is that our kids can’t enjoy just being kids. Things like not being able to go to school and learn face-to-face, not being able to run around or play on the playground and being unable to play in community sports. The importance of these activities for all children is so important for their mental wellbeing, but it is so important for their social skills and learning.  We always try our best to provide opportunities for our children, so this month I would like to give a shout out to my daughter Alisha and her friend Christina, for their efforts to co-ordinate ‘Sports on the Spectrum’.  Below is Alisha’s insight as to what this program means to her and Christina.

This year, before COVID lockdown restrictions, as part of my school program, Christina and I worked together and created an event called ‘Sports on the Spectrum’.

Our program was designed to encourage children on the Spectrum to join in physical activities, in a setting where they would feel comfortable to participate and have a go no matter what their ability was. The program was aimed at helping the kids by building up their confidence, and by teaching them social skills and teamwork. Why was this important to me? My 6-year-old brother is starting to show a real interest in sports, which I love. I love watching football with him (and cheering on the Cats!!), but sometimes I worry about whether he will ever be able to participate in team sports himself. I also worry that he might be too nervous to try, because it can be a little trickier for him, especially when he can see the other children ‘get it’. Sometimes he can really struggle with coordination or even understanding the rules. My brother also has weak core strength, so what some people might think are simple tasks like throwing a ball, running for long periods or carrying a bat can be difficult for him. That’s why I wanted to create a safe environment where children on the Spectrum could learn the fundamentals of a variety of sports in a fun way.

Sports on the Spectrum was to be offered for children between the age of 6 to 10 years, with a focus on children on the Spectrum who wanted to try some new sports. It would provide a safe environment for them to feel included and they would be taught new skills, no matter what their fitness level and experience was. Children would be taught to work in pairs and in teams so they could learn social skills in a fun way.

I was happy to see that there were many people in our community who were also interested in participating. Mum has often said to me there are not many programs that have the resourcing for children on the Spectrum. I love that many organisations and sports allow children on the Spectrum to participate and be included as this is so important, and Christina and I really wanted to contribute to this with our Sports on the Spectrum.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID lockdown, our event was cancelled. We were absolutely shattered.  However, Christina and I are hopeful that later in the year when restrictions are eased, and we are back at school that our program may go ahead. The program will consist of a one-hour session for kids who are on the Spectrum, to attend the program and have some fun, whilst doing physical activities and socialising. I believe sports should be encouraged for all children as it provides so many benefits – it increases endorphins, gets children moving in the fresh air and helps increase social skills and fitness.

Watch this space – we’re determined to run our Sports on the Spectrum program once we’re able to.

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