The simple joy of running and tumbling about on gym mats is now accessible for Berwick-area blind and vision-impaired children. The recently opened Insight Specialist Primary School – located in Enterprise Avenue, Berwick – has partnered with children’s gymnasium Funtastic Gymnastics to provide students with the opportunity to play on the gymnastics equipment and learn important life skills.
Insight’s communications executive Maria Franca Galanzi said the program was a boon for blind children in the area as it helped improve their co-ordination, balance and added to the students’ confidence and self-belief.
“Only about five per cent of children practice any type of organised sport. That is a figure we have from the Victorian Blind Cricket Association and that is a terrible thing as blind children need physical education as they can’t just go and run in the park,” Galanzi said. “The main benefits for our children (from the program) are to gain balance, co-ordination and spatial awareness – it’s very difficult to understand the space around you as a blind child – so it’s fundamentally important to learn that at an early age. “This program is extremely important for them as it shows they can do these things and can learn to do them on their own and we will be looking at other programs like this as well.”
Besides the physical and mental benefits of the program, most importantly for Galanzi and the school, the children just have fun without worry. “They have fun – really have fun – and blind children don’t often have fun like other children can do,” Galanzi said.
Funtastic Gymnastics manager Kerry Leembruggen said the pilot program’s first intake of eager gymnasts had relished the chance to challenge themselves on the trampolines, rings and the beloved foam pit. “The school opened up at the end of this street recently and one of the teachers from there asked if we’d be interested in running a program,” Leembruggen said. “We had an education session with Blind Sports Victoria, a rundown on basically the different types of blindness and what to do with the kids. “It was a bit daunting to start off with, but we felt a bit better after the education session as it’s a learning curve for us as well as the children. “You forget that they’re blind and once you explain to them the equipment they’re straight into it and they all love jumping in the foam pit and playing on the trampolines.”
For more information about Insight Specialist Primary School or the Funtastic blind gymnastics program, contact the school on 9707 1585.
Essendon Keilor Gymnastics Club also partnered with Blind Sports Victoria to receive funding from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to offer more gymnastics classes to people who are blind or live with vision impairments.
To give people in your local area the chance to be part of a welcoming gymnastics club that offer classes for people with vision impairments, please contact Kerry Tavrou or Genevieve Gibson on 9214 6020
(Article courtesy of Jarrod Potter, Pakenham Gazette and Gymnastics Victoria).
(Photo courtesy of Stewart Chambers, Pakenham Gazette).