Benefits of Gymnastics for Children with Disability
Often children living with disability are unable to participate in sport fully. This may be due to a number of reasons such as inequality of access (of services and facilities) and potentially hazardous situations. Gymnastics however wholeheartedly encourages inclusivity.
Gymnastics is a pretty simple sport to get involved with. You find a club (CLICK HERE ), and you turn up to classes which offer services that will benefit and work entirely for kids with disability. There are no bells and whistles, just children encouraged by coaches, exposed to a plethora of mental and physical stimuli.
There is a perception that gymnastics is gruelling and only for the hyper-competitive, however gymnastics as a leisurely sport offers obvious benefits, such as:
Safe physical activity, promoting flexibility, strength and coordination
An arena for social interaction
An activity which induces passion
A scheduled activity
An escape from the mundane!
A study done by Gymnastics Victoria, highlighted the increase in self-esteem for children with disability who partook in gymnastics. Parents identified an increase in confidence which assisted in the willingness to partake in social interactions and increase social development. Another benefit was evident in that children were able to see success at their own pace, and small achievements were celebrated, and celebrated often. For parents, success came in the form of facilitating their children’s social activity, and witnessing participation and involvement with others.
Testament to this belief, Chris Bunton, the 26 year old Special Olympic Gold medallist acknowledges gymnastics as being a wonderful building block. Starting at age five, Chris’s low motor skills and strength was no match for his passion for gymnastics.
His first international success came in the form of an apparatus gold medal from the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai, and then another in Athens. Chris recently won his overall Gold at the 3rd Down Syndrome World Gymnastics Championships in Germany. A Sydney University Student, accredited gymnastics coach, and actor, Chris also founded Ruckus, a performance ensemble which celebrates disability.
Whilst coaching for children with disability is still an area which needs more attention, actions have sparked snowball effects. There’s hope for more inclusivity, more education and more services. We hope to see children with disability partake, enjoy and love their activity in a well-informed gymnastics society.