WHAT started as an all-abilities Auskick group in Ballarat has earned statewide recognition for expanding into other sport fields to offer more children opportunity.
Access All-Abilities Sport Ballarat has been named Initiative of the Year at the Victorian Disability Sport and Recreation Awards for innovative work in the disability sport sector.
Ballarat mum and group founder Kellie Tait said the award was humbling to top the great work of other initiatives. She hopes the honour would help raise awareness for the Ballarat group, so all children with special needs know they have an opportunity to participate where they otherwise would not.
AAA Sport Ballarat kicked off as Auskick when Ms Tait was looking for a way her son Cooper, now six years old, could better enjoy getting involved in the game he loved.
Halfway through last year’s Auskick season, the group was contacted by Cricket Victoria hoping to launch an all-abilities Milo cricket program. Football Federation Australia soon called with a similar soccer format as did Netball Victoria.
In the past 12 months, more than 100 children with special needs have taken part in the programs.
“A lot of these kids don’t have the social skills or skills to play with their peers, let alone play the sport,” Ms Tait said. “Every day this group becomes better friends...it’s opening doors these kids have never had before.”
New opportunities include a chance to play at half-time in AFL action at Mars Stadium on Saturday. Some have also played cricket at AAMI Park last summer.
AAA Sport Ballarat has also formed a new partnership with Ballarat Grammar in which they can use Grammar facilities and, in turn, Grammar students volunteer to help run the programs on Sunday mornings.