LEARNING THE ROPES: Athletes compete in the Special Olympics NSW sports days as they prepare for the upcoming Olympic Day on Friday.
LEARNING THE ROPES: Athletes compete in the Special Olympics NSW sports days as they prepare for the upcoming Olympic Day on Friday. Contributed

Special Olympics program tears down barriers

SHANON Tough has spent the past year tearing down barriers between people living with a disability and the sporting field.

While he began with the international round ball game as part of his allegiance to the South Services Gunners soccer club, the Special Olympics NSW head coach has now extended it to a wide array of sports.

For the past few months Tough has taken a group of competitors from the CRANES Community Support Programs to Fisher Park on a Friday as they branch out into Oztag, touch football and cricket.

"Our aim is to introduce everyone with intellectual disabilities into sport and open up a pathway to allow them to play at different levels," Mr Tough said.

 

Athletes compete in the Special Olympics NSW sports days as they prepare for the upcoming Olympic Day on Friday.
Athletes compete in the Special Olympics NSW sports days as they prepare for the upcoming Olympic Day on Friday. Contributed

Anyone who is living with a mental disability, such as autism or anxiety, are eligible to join the program. But it isn't just the participants who have been impacted by this service.

"Each week we have sport coaches come down," Mr Tough said. "The coaches get to experience the difference and it can get emotional."

There has been an average of 15 participants who regularly attend the program, all of which "walk in with confidence before they play".

 

Athletes compete in the Special Olympics NSW sports days as they prepare for the upcoming Olympic Day on Friday.
Athletes compete in the Special Olympics NSW sports days as they prepare for the upcoming Olympic Day on Friday. Contributed

While the regular coaching sessions have proven a success, they all culminate this Friday in a big Olympics Day where all competitors will be facing off against one another in the sporting arena.

Tough said all sports will be competed in as the program will run in a station by station style with competitors playing 10-15 minutes at each activity.

This program is run by CRANES Community Support programs who extended a warm welcome to all fellow services in the valley to invite their athletes

For more info about the Olympics Day contact Tough on 0420 907 629.



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