Making gymnastics accessible for children with a vision impairment
Isabel - EKGA class participant
In partnership with Blind Sports Victoria, Essendon Keilor Gymnastics Academy (EKGA) has been running a specialised gymnastics program for children with a vision impairment since 2011. The program is offered to school aged children and the classes are suitable for beginners with no prior experience or exposure to Gymnastics.
Children who participate in the class experience varying levels of vision, from partial vision to complete blindness. To ensure a positive and supportive experience for all children, EKGA provides one-on-one guidance and has invested in specialised equipment, such as props that make sounds and textured aids.
Rory - EKGA class participant
Rory is 11 years old, and has been attending the class at EKGA for almost 5 years. His father, Rob, would love to see more gymnastics club offer programs that can accommodate blind or vision impaired children.
“It’s so good for him to get moving and use his upper body a bit more than he usually does. It’s been great for his posture, and he always comes home in a good mood after class,” he said.
For many of the participants, EKGA is the closest gymnastics club offering a Blind Sports program. Some families travel upwards of an hour to attend the program.
“They’re coming from the other side of town to get here, so it would be good if other clubs could offer a similar program,” Rod said.
Isabel’s mother Edwina is one of the parents at EKGA who has travelled for over an hour to attend the class.
“This is her first trial here, but she has done gymnastics at Fitness for Fun for about 2 terms.”
“She loves gymnastics and is absolutely desperate to do it. She loves movement; she loves doing cartwheels and pulling herself up on apparatus and swinging around,” Edwina said.
Edwina explained that the skills Isabel has learnt in gymnastics have helped her navigate through her everyday life.
“She uses the skills she learns on the beam, balancing with her arms out and feeling along with her toes,” Edwina said.
Gymnastics classes for blind and vision impaired children run every Friday evening at EKGA. If you are interested in participating in this class, please visit their website, https://www.ekga.com.au/
For clubs and coaches interested in upskilling to offer a blind sports program, please contact Gymnastics Victoria’s Inclusion & Programs Manager April Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Blind Sport Victoria, visit http://blindsports.org.au/