Why living with a disability SHOULDN’T be a reason to not participate in exercise
Written by: Alicia
Category: Disability
Published on: December 16, 2020

In 2015, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found 18.3% or 4.3million Australian’s lived with a disability. 

With 1 in 5 children presenting with some form of disability.

Individuals with physical, mental or behavioural conditions are often classified as individuals with special needs, despite their ability to live a fully functioning, capable life.

Often enough, living with individuals who have a disability may ALWAYS look challenging. But sometimes, it’s more rewarding than ever….

Studies suggest that 72% of children with special needs are socially ISOLATED… Yes, Seventy-two percent… Meaning that only 18% are included or involved in some form of social interactions. 

Why the heck are individuals with special needs often excluded from exercises or sports???

Is it because people think they can’t do it? Is it because people think they need different treatment? It is because people don’t know what exactly to do, how to help, or how to make it fun? 

Why do I think activities, programs, and sports need to be more inclusive for individuals living with a disability?

Because it has the potential to greatly improve their physical capacity, enjoyment, daily living, and wellbeing. It allows them to engage in activities with ease and assists them in performing or participating in other sports and other leisure activities, whether it be walking, gardening, shopping, pushbike riding or dancing.


Let’s take a look at some of our very own Paralympians.

Adam Deans

–   Basketballer
–   Fell downstairs at a young age and broke his leg. Whilst the doctors were assessing his leg, they discovered a cancerous tumour which lead to his left lower leg having to be amputated

(image credit)
https://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au/news/rollers-prepare-rio-coast/2888237/

Siobhan Paton 

–    Swimmer 

–    Born with an intellectual disability, due to a lack of oxygen during birth

–    Begun swimming when she was diagnosed with a connective tissue disorder; Being aware that it would strengthen her joints

–    Holds 13 world records in her disability class, and was recognised as the 2000 Paralympian of the Year 

(image credit)
https://paralympichistory.org.au/article/siobhan-paton-swimming-sydney-summer-paralympics/

Rheed McCracken

–    Athlete
–    Born with Diaplegic Cerebral Palsy
–    Competed in athletics from 2005 (aged 8)
–    McCracken started using a wheelchair in late 2009 (aged
12) due to pain, but continued with athletics from 2010
–    In 2016 he was recognised as Sporting Wheelies and Disabled associations’ Junior Male Athlete of the Year 

(image credit)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheed_McCracken

To find out more information about our other Australian Paralympians, feel free to use the following link: https://www.paralympic.org.au/


Some of the well-known benefits of exercise for individuals living with a disability include: 

  • Improved heart and lung function
  • Improved muscle and skeletal development 
  • Improved balance, coordination and reaction time 
  • Enhanced socialisation and mental health
  • Increased confidence and opportunities 
  • Increased chances of remaining physically active later in life
  • Reduced vulnerability and dependence on daily supports
  • Reduced risk of developing long-term chronic conditions (ie Obesity, Diabetes, Arthritis, Cardiovascular disease, etc.)

When developing a program, it must be enjoyable and intriguing, as it would be to any one else. Programs and activities need to be enjoyable, appropriate and relate to something useful or something of value. It must also have provide vaious opportunities to participate in and should internally motivate the individual to continue.


Some great exercise ideas to be done at home, or sports which are commonly inclusive to individuals with a disability are: 

  • Octopus, 4 corners, Balloon tennis or catch the x
  • Swimming and water aerobics 
  • Athletics
  • Boxing 
  • Wheelchair Aussie rules, tennis and basketball
  • Wii games (as they generally incorporate full body movements, balance and coordination. Are still very suitable for individuals in a wheelchair)

For other sports that may be of interest for those living with a disability; Access the Disability Sports Australia website (https://www.sports.org.au/) or the Paralympics program website (https://www.paralympic.org.au/programs). Where they both aim to represent, and assist individuals living with a disability, to become more active.

Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA), have also developed a great eBook for kids.


See the link below:
https://mailchi.mp/essa/exerciseforkids 

We have developed a weekly 1-hour group program for Children living with a disability; aimed at improving their participation, socialisation, confidence and physical capacity.


Check out our Public Facebook group for useful information and weekly games 
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/305858280550091/

If you know any child who may be open to joining our program, or you would like further guidance on an appropriate and suitable exercise program tailored to your own abilities, feel free to contact the Revitalize team on (03) 9016 3415

Resources: 
https://exerciseright.com.au/kids-physical-disabilities/

https://www.feroscare.com.au/feros-stories/articles/parenting-a-child-with-disability-what-to-expect

http://www.daru.org.au/organisation/association-for-children-with-a-disability

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ServiceProfiles/association-for-children-with-a-disability-service

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