Q: With so many other sport organisations and non for profits, why did you choose Special Olympics Australia?
Kim: We were originally recommended to Special Olympics as an organisation that would offer our son fitness training in a sport he loved in which he would feel he belonged and be supported in an accepting environment. That he would fit in and not have to explain his differences, that he would be accepted and encouraged.
This is exactly what happened – he grew in a supportive environment and learned new skills which lead him to represent Australia three times in gymnastics. His world expanded instead of feeling isolated because of his disabilities. He grew into a confident young man who has experienced so many highlights because of the opportunities given by his involvement with the organisation.
Q: What is your favourite Special Olympics Sport? Or what sport did you play as a kid?
Kim: Table Tennis – as I am currently coaching this sport as a volunteer.
I feel it is a privilege to try and give back to an organisation that has given our son many wonderful opportunities throughout the last 25 years. Table Tennis is a great sport for our ageing population and one that players can still learn new skills and expand upon them. It still requires a level of fitness but one that caters for all abilities. It’s a fun sport for all ages and abilities. At present we offer table tennis in six clubs throughout Queensland with six tournaments a year to attend.
Q: Is there a particular moment, memory or achievement that stands out for you?
Kim: I am very proud of the gymnasts who I coached that went onto represent Australia at World Games. More importantly I am proud of the young people that could never think they could even compete but went onto perform at their very best.
When I first started table tennis and saw the joy on the player’s faces who had never played this sport before. I am very proud that this sport has now grown throughout Queensland. A sport that I thought would never get off the ground. I am especially grateful to all the other coaches who keep encouraging their players to keep training and grow this sport in their clubs.
Q: How has Special Olympics Australia impacted your life?
Kim: It has kept me very busy with the varying roles I have undertaken- heehee!
I am very honoured to have met some very committed people who continue to improve the lives of people with a disability and sacrificed so much for our children. I continue to be so amazed that volunteers who have no children within Special Olympics work tirelessly for our organisation.
I enjoy every moment I am with the athletes and their families I hope that I make a difference to their world. Coaching gives me a purpose to give back to this great organisation.
I continue to learn new skills in my pursuit to improve the way I coach and interact with the players.
Q: What difference have you seen the Special Olympics movement make on athletes or family members lives?
Kim: As a mother of a son with an intellectual disability I can vouch firsthand the great benefit that belonging to Special Olympics has had on all of our lives.
Through sport it has given our son a life he would never had been able to dream of in the mainstream world. Best of all he made wonderful lifelong friends. He has felt welcomed and supported in a loving environment. His strength and fitness continue to grow as he learns new skills.
As a mother I felt I shared the journey of living with a person with a disability with other families with similar experiences. I never felt alone and lost I know that all the families had shared our journey as well. We could tell each other what was working, what professionals we had used and now how to navigate NDIS.
I have really appreciated that Special Olympics gave us all the opportunity to connect with like people. I have seen the relief on all families I have introduced ‘Special O’ to as they see their child play sport for the first time - they are so happy to know that their child belongs somewhere where they are no longer judged because of their disability but celebrate their abilities.
Q: What would you say to someone considering volunteering for Special Olympics Australia?
Kim: Do it! Now!
You will receive so much more than you give. The smiles on hard working athletes will give you so much joy. Whatever you can give is appreciated no matter how small that we are grateful for all you give. This is the forgotten part of society that you will make a difference to every child and family. You will be well supported, you won’t ever feel alone or overwhelmed that there are people in the organisation who will assist you and help you through any concerns with patience and guidance.
I am very grateful for the opportunities that Special Olympics have given me to enjoy the wonderful journey I have undertaken.
Q: What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
Kim: That I can speak in a large group. I look the least sporty person ever and can play table tennis which I had never done. Also, I ride a quad-bike with my husband and son which I love – the rougher the better.
Q: Where to from here, what’s next, what does the future look like for you?
Kim: I continue to canvass for the inclusion of table tennis at the next National Games for the first time ever. I have worked towards that goal for so long and look forward to table tennis being recognised as the great sport it is in Special Olympics.
We are having our first tournament at the Redlands club next week which is very exciting for the future growth of table tennis.
I will continue to liaise with Table Tennis Queensland to expand the school-based programs as the growth of our sport starts with school aged children.
I look forward to giving opportunities in sport for people with a disability and to continue to get our message out there - that people with a disability deserve to play and enjoy sport within our community.
I love improving my table tennis skills so that I can be a better coach and increase the skill level of all our players.
Thank you, Kim!
Download the Yoinki app today and sign up as a volunteer to be part of the inclusion revolution here at Special Olympics Australia