As part of its commitment to achieving sustainable inclusion, Gymnastics Victoria commissioned Scope to undertake research to explore the experience and benefits of gymnastics for children with disabilities, identify any issues, and develop strategies to improve the experience. This summary presents an overview of the key results of the research conducted by Scope.
Data was collected from 25 parents of children with disability and 10 gymnastics instructors at 8 clubs affiliated with Gymnastics Victoria.
Both parents and instructors emphasised the physical benefits of gymnastics including strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. They also stated there were benefits for the child’s confidence, self-esteem, and aided social development. Parents and instructors valued that gymnastics was fun for children and not overly competitive – children proceeded and achieved according to their personal abilities. For parents there was pride and satisfaction of their child’s involvement and achievement, with many valuing the social interaction with the club and other parents.
Many parents spoke enthusiastically about the clubs and the instructors and their positive supporting role. Many instructors expressed the need for further understanding of a child’s disability and how to best work with a particular child, which was echoed by some parents.
The key areas of improvement identified by parents and instructors were:
- Increased disability awareness training for instructors;
- Increased funding and resources for gymnastic clubs;
- Open and ongoing communication between instructors and parents;
- Fostering an inclusive gymnastics club culture that welcomes and supports all to participate.
A summary of findings
- A range of initiatives have been implemented by Gymnastics Victoria to improve inclusion of people with disabilities in gymnastics.
- Children with disabilities benefit from participating in gymnastics. Benefits relating to strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, confidence, self-esteem, and social development were reported by parents and instructors.
- Ensuring that people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups are included in gymnastics requires ongoing work and commitment
*Text provided and photo by Gymnastics Victoria. For more information about the study, contact Kerry Tavrou, Gymnastics Developmnent Coordinator (Inclusion), Gymnastics Victoria. Ph: 9214 6020 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org