Tri Star Gymnastics run a Disability Gymnastics Programme (DGYM) dedicated to providing lessons for those with physical and intellectual disabilities. In the March e-News you may have seen an article about this programme and Leigh Dawson, a Canadian coach. Leigh has been employed by Tri Star until the end of this year to set up, run, and grow the programme. Leigh works full time at Tri Star but is available outside her working hours, and during school holidays, to run workshops for Clubs, or groups of Clubs, who want to learn more about offering gymnastic classes for children with disabilities.
Funding for the DGYM programme
Because of the wide range of individual needs of the athletes, Leigh often works one on one with the children. This can make the costs for these types of activities very high. Tri Star want to keep the programme as accessible as possible so decided to subsidise the costs of these sessions.
Funding was obtained to support the children in the programme with physical disabilities (find out more about funding opportunities with the Halberg Trust). This left a gap in funding support for children with intellectual disabilities. Tri Star has filled this gap through a combination of a partnership with Sport Auckland, fundraising through a Give-a-Little page and other initiatives including their Gym-a-thon.
This school term Tri Star has tried a new initiative to raise funds for the DGYM classes by organising a Gym-a-Thon. Every athlete at Tri Star (from pre-schoolers through to senior competitive athletes) has been given a personal gymnastic goal to work on, encouraging them to push their own personal limits.
Athletes have been working on these goals during regular classes all term, up to the week of June 12-18. During that week the kids were tested on their goal during their normal class.
While working towards their Gym-a-thon goal, athletes had to raise sponsorship in return for achieving the goal. The club set a target for every child to raise $25 in sponsorship by the end of June and offered a reward to the athletes raising the highest total. As of Friday 16 June, the highest amount of sponsorship that was raised thus far was $113.00 by one individual athlete.
This initiative is not only a great way to raise money for an excellent programme, it raises awareness of the programme throughout the Club and encourages all athletes to think about their challenges and to push themselves.
What is it like to do gymnastics with various kinds of disabilities?
As part of the DGYM week and to raise awareness of what it is like to do gymnastics with a disability, the coaches at Tri Star ran gymnastics sessions to give their gymnasts a taste of gymnastics with only one limb or doing a blindfolded obstacle course or trying out the blindfold on the beam, lending each other a hand.
The more we educate ourselves about disability the more we can find creative and meaningful ways to be an inclusive sports community.
The gymnasts were also tested by not being allowed to speak during a whole session imitating a gymnastics class for deaf people or hearing very loud noises during class to experience what it can be like for a child with some form of autism.
Students from the Maclean Centre at Mount Roskill Grammar School came by for DGYM week and had an absolute blast exploring the gym. The MacLean Centre is a facility where students with disabilities can grow emotionally, socially and cognitively in a challenging and supportive environment with maximum contact with their age peers.