Thursday, 23 July 2020

New initiative to get teens with autism involved in sport

A program aimed at getting teenagers with autism more active and involved in organised sport is part of a new initiative funded by the Federal Government.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt today announced $164,970 in funding for STEPS Group, one of 57 successful recipients selected as part of the program, Driving Social Inclusion through Sport and Physical Activity.

The $19 million initiative is designed to strengthen communities through participation.

“STEPS Group was identified as serving an important role in bridging the divide and encouraging social inclusion across the Bundaberg region,” Mr Pitt said.

“The STEPS Stepping Into Bundaberg Sport (SIBS) program will run weekly physical activities with two age groups – 12-15 and 15-18 years – supplemented by holiday coaching clinics in rugby league, AFL and indoor netball, softball and cricket to introduce participants to organised sporting activities.

“This organisation and others like it continue to play a vital role as we strive toward being more inclusive.”

STEPS Group Managing Director Carmel Crouch said the goal of the program was to build inclusive relationships which encourage SIBS participants and their families to enrol in a club-based sporting activity and to maintain participation in regular physical activity.

“We know that participation in physical activity and sport drops dramatically between the ages of 13-17 and the likelihood of this is greater with ASD and social isolation,” Ms Crouch said.

“SIBS will curb this by building good exercise habits and personal capacity through regular engagement in a variety of physical activities in a supportive environment.

“The activities will focus on social inclusion, building fitness and having fun engaging with peers.”

STEPS will engage qualified trainers with ASD experience to run weekly one-hour sessions during eight school terms with a maximum of 12 per group.

During the school holidays STEPS will offer coaching clinics in indoor netball, cricket and softball, as well as rugby league and AFL, to familiarise participants with basic skills, rules and team roles.

A start date for the program has not been determined, due to Covid restrictions, but anyone interested can contact 07 5458 3000 or email enquiries@stepsgroup.com.au.

Further information about the Driving Social Inclusion through Sport and Physical Activity program is available here.

 

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