Active Opportunities empowers people with disabilities or those from disadvantaged families and backgrounds to realise their potential through safe and inclusive sports programs. In addition to these opportunities, they also work to raise awareness in communities of the value of having people with disabilities integrated in their sports club.
Approximately 25% of Australian children are obese and for kids with disabilities these stats are even higher. Hornsby, Waitara and Asquith: suburbs in NSW (near to where Active Opportunities are located) are even more likely to have health issues due to the low participation rates in sport and poor diets, partly due to the high number of fast food stores in the area. At the time of applying there were only two clubs within the North Shore and Northern Beaches area that provide opportunities for children with an intellectual and physical disability to participate in Football
Active Opportunities work with 20 children with disabilities through a “Football4All” program but the waitlist of over 10 children is growing as more kids and their families look for sporting opportunities that are accessible for people with disabilities.
To be able to support all those who wanted it, Active Opportunities were in desperate need for additional funding.
Through funds provided from the Sports Foundation and Australia Post, Active Opportunities were able to host eight skills session across a school term for children with disabilities.
Local volunteers were trained to work with children with disabilities and run sports programs, this ensures that the program is sustainable and can be continued in the future. The Football4All Program has been developed in a way that is friendlier and more accessible for people with disabilities. This approach that Active Opportunities use means that sport delivery emphasises a move away from traditional coach dominated sessions to those that are player-centered, using game-like situations rather than technical drills.
More than 20 new participants joined the program, giving them a safe and welcoming place to develop social skills with other participants while improving their self-esteem and keeping healthy. They get to increase their access participation in regular structured team sports, which is not as commonly available for children with a disability.
The program is also for the benefit of the carers and parents who are provided with a respite and an opportunity to meet and connect with other carers around their community.
“Football4All” has partnered with the local Lindfield Football Club to promote pathways into family friendly environments and to create a mechanism for sustainability of the program. The partnership between Active Opportunities and Lindfield Football Club is of benefit to both parties, with each being able to learn more about one another and Lindfield learning valuable skills to do with interacting and working with people with disabilities.