Peak bodies partner to drive sport inclusion

Gymnastics Australia and Special Olympics Australia have once again partnered to enhance the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in gymnastics across the country.

The organisations will cooperate on multiple initiatives over the next three years to increase participation pathways for people with intellectual disabilities, such as assimilating Special Olympics competitions into state gymnastics competitions.

The parties have collaborated closely for the past three years to promote and deliver inclusive sport programs designed to develop participants’ physical literacy.

Physical literacy describes equipping children with the foundational movement skills and other capabilities they need to stay active throughout their lives.

Kitty Chiller AM, Gymnastics Australia, Chief Executive Officer said the organisation is thrilled to extend the partnership with Special Olympics Australia and to be able to promote gymnastics as an inclusive sport for people of all abilities.

“We know that gymnastics provides people of all ages with the skills and experiences they need to develop their physical literacy. This is the basic knowledge and behaviours that will give them the confidence and motivation to lead active lives.

“Community sport brings so much to the lives of millions of Australians and through this partnership, we want to provide more opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get involved and fall in love with the sport of gymnastics,” Chiller said.

A key partnership commitment will see Special Olympics Australia and Gymnastics Australia team up to leverage the Australian Government’s Sporting Schools initiative and offer a specifically adapted program for students with intellectual disability.

The newly inked deal extends and updates the memorandum of understanding under which the parties have been successfully piloting Special Olympics Australia’s Young Athletes program.

The play-based program helps children aged two to eight with and without intellectual disabilities to develop fundamental movement skills.

Since the pilot kicked off in 2018, Special Olympics Australia and Gymnastics Australia have jointly developed resources and delivered more than 40 programs to around 640 participants in NSW, the ACT, and Victoria.

The programs are delivered by Gymnastics Australia coaches accredited in the Young Athletes coaching course designed and developed by Special Olympics Australia, which can be completed online through the organisation’s e-learning platform, SOA Learn.

Special Olympics Australia’s National Young Athletes Manager, Naazmi Johnston, said the alliance benefits both parties.

“Working in partnership has allowed access to facilities and qualified coaches, which Special Olympics clubs struggle with, while Gymnastics clubs are always looking for programs they can run during the day when they are quiet.”

This latest partnership incarnation will see their commitment to growing the Young Athletes program nationally continue, providing recreational gymnastics for young children with an intellectual disability as a pathway into Gymnastics Australia’s Kindergym program or Special Olympics club training.