By Andrea Phillips
A PROGRAM designed by Special Olympics Australia to boost the participation of children with intellectual disability and autism in school sport is a winning project in the Heart Foundation’s 2020 Active Australia Innovation Challenge.
The challenge invited community organisations to submit innovative ideas for getting people moving, attracting 306 entries from across Australia.
Special Olympics Australia’s Inclusive Sports in Schools program was one of 10 winning submissions, receiving a $10,000 grant to better equip schools to provide inclusive physical activity for children with intellectual disability and autism.
The grant will enable Special Olympics Australia to provide specialised training, resources, and support to staff at four Victorian primary schools. At each, there will be six coaching sessions involving both staff and students, along with an event where students can showcase their new skills to family and friends.
Around 160 children will benefit from the program, which also aims to link schools and families with inclusive community sport and recreational programs in their areas.
Pierre Comis, Special Olympics Australia’s Head of Schools and Participation, said: “Through provision of regular activity and supporting resources, the project will build the capability and capacity of schools, teachers, coaches, and community sports clubs to continue delivering inclusive sport and physical activity programs.”
- Pierre Comis, Special Olympics Australia’s Head of Schools and Participation
Heart Foundation Group CEO, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said more than eight in 10 children and young people are not active enough for good heart health.
Comis said children with intellectual disability experience additional challenges developing the skills and behaviours to be physically active and are frequently more sedentary than those without disabilities.
Insufficient physical inactivity is a major risk factor for heart disease, Professor Kelly said.
“Heart disease continues to be the single leading cause of death in this country, claiming an Australian life every 29 minutes.”
Through the Active Australia Innovation Challenge, Professor Kelly said the Heart Foundation was supporting community-based initiatives that will encourage Australians to get more active and live a healthier lifestyle.
“A big congratulations to the grant recipients, with whom we will be working closely to bring their projects to life.”
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Special Olympics Australia strives to ensure that everyone living with an intellectual disability can participate in sport. We provide: