1 October 2023

Abilities Unleashed giving disabled adults an avenue into sport

| Jarryd Rowley
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Person in a wheelchair

Disabilities Sports Australia will be hosting the first adult come-and-try day at the Equex Centre on 10 October at 10 am. Photo: Supplied.

Disability Sports Australia is set to host a come-and-try sports event for Riverina adults with disabilities.

The free event will take place at the Equex Centre on 10 October and feature three sports: wheelchair rugby, netball and badminton.

Disability Sports Australia activate inclusion program manager Kristy Rohrer said Abilities Unleashed aimed to help adults with disabilities participate in sports regularly by putting them in touch with local sporting groups.

“The event is a come-and-try for people living with disability, whether that be sensory, physical or intellectual disabilities,” Ms Rohrer said.

“There will be a handful of events on the day which will be fully adapted to meet the needs of participants, so regardless of their disabilities or their needs, they will be able to participate in a fun and inclusive environment.

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“One of the biggest barriers that people with disability face is actually self-confidence, so we’ve created this environment where people can come along, try the sports, not feel embarrassed and feel like they may fail or can’t do it.”

Disability Sports Australia’s sports inclusion programs began in 2016. In the first year, they held five events across NSW; now there are more than 70 events a year across the country, with more than 6000 participants.

“Our previous events, including ones in Wagga, have been focused on children with disabilities whereas Abilities Unleashed will be the first with an adult focus,” Ms Rohrer said.

“Following the adults’ program, we will be having a kids’ event the week after which has already seen 150 kids register. We’ve held several children’s events in Wagga over the past four years and each of them has been quite well received.”

Ms Rohrer wants to encourage those who are interested in participating in the program to register before the event to allow for the most appropriate delivery of the sports.

“We ask that before people come to the event people register by providing a bit of information about the participant’s disability; we are able to meet their requirements and make adjustments to the program to make sure that everyone who is interested has the best experience possible,” she said.

“Our hope is that by providing these opportunities and working with different sporting organisations we can make it far more common to see people with disabilities participating in sports.”

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Ms Rohrer said she had definitely noticed an increase in inclusivity in sports in terms of disability but believed the interest coincided with events like the Paralympics and Invictus Games.

“There is a real buzz around inclusive sports when the media coverage is high, but it is on a cycle,” she said.

“Really by working with the Special Olympics and organisations like that, we want to keep providing sporting opportunities and maintaining that profile even in years where there isn’t a Paralympic Games.”

To register for Wagga Wagga Abilities Unleashed, click here.

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