Grant help to get South Australian kids moving

By Andrea Phillips

December 2020

Special Olympics Australia is set to roll out its Young Athletes program in South Australia in 2021 thanks to philanthropic backing.

A GRANT from the Morialta Trust will let Special Olympics Australia take its Young Athletes program to South Australia for the first time in the new year.

Through Young Athletes, Special Olympics Australia provides a supportive and inclusive environment where children with and without disability learn vital movement skills through playing together.

The $25,000 grant will benefit around 150 young children with intellectual disability, autism, or developmental delay who will be able to participate in the program free of charge.

Participants’ parents will be given information and resources to encourage physical activity at home as well.

Naazmi Johnston, Special Olympics Australia’s National Young Athletes Manager, said that families gain a support network in coming together to support their children’s development through the program.

The Morialta Trust has funded organisations that assist disadvantaged children and their families through annual grant distributions for 40 years. Each year, it supports organisations that aim to bring sustainable change to the lives of children in South Australia.

The $25,000 grant will benefit around 150 young children with intellectual disability, autism, or developmental delay who will be able to participate in the program
free of charge.

Having successfully piloted Young Athletes in NSW, the ACT, and Victoria, Special Olympics Australia and delivery partner Gymnastics Australia are committed to growing the program nationally.

The trust’s support will help turn that commitment into reality, Johnston said.

Special Olympics Australia will team up with Gymnastics South Australia to run programs at gymnastics clubs, special development schools, and other community venues in the state.

The community will benefit from the funded programs in multiple ways.

Johnston said that the grant will help to upskill local coaches to deliver all-abilities programs effectively and increase the capacity of community providers to offer physical activity for children with intellectual disability.


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Young Athletes program objectives

Young Athletes has four key objectives:

  1. Develop the fundamental movement skills most important to young children’s physical progression: running, jumping, catching, throwing, striking, and kicking.
  2. Develop children’s social and emotional competence: by playing games based on the fundamental movement skills, children will establish relationships, develop their confidence, and have opportunities to build resilience.
  3. Introduce the sporting environment: the program is frequently a child’s first experience of the sporting environment, so Special Olympics Australia equips coaches to make it safe, fun, and engaging for young children with intellectual disability.
  4. Empowering parents to play at home: The beauty of the program is how easy it is to play in different environments. Parents can easily take the course resources and learning to help their children develop the fundamental movement skills through play at home.



Special Olympics Australia strives to ensure that everyone living with an intellectual disability can participate in sport. We provide:

  • Weekly grassroots sporting, recreational, social and health activities in local communities around Australia.
  • An environment where people with an intellectual disability can develop physical fitness, build self-esteem, demonstrate courage, and make friends.
  • Competition pathways ranging from weekly club events, to regional, state, and national games, culminating in the Special Olympics World Games.

Special Olympics Australia has three clubs in South Australia, run by 115 volunteers and serving 126 athletes.