Daly Olsen’s smile says it all.
The six-year-old is learning new skills to take part in the inaugural All Abilities Rugby League program.
All Abilities Rugby League is a first in the Bundaberg Region and it will provide a modified sports program for children with special needs.
Walk With Me 4 Autism’s Sonya Olsen, who is also Daly's mum, said they were working in conjunction with Northern Districts Rugby League to run the football sessions over four weeks starting in July.
Her son Daly has autism, and he will join children of all abilities to learn skills, such as catching and throwing the football, before taking to the field for a game each week.
Rugby league has always played a big part in Sonya’s life.
For more than three decades she has volunteered her time to the local competition and has been recognised for her dedication with a raft of awards.
The All Abilities Rugby League program means a lot to her and her family.
“This program will give children with special needs the opportunity to play modified rugby league alongside their peers in a fun environment,” Sonya said.
“Children with special needs will experience the inclusiveness of being part of a team and giving their families the chance to be spectators, while we have mentors to shadow the children who may need additional assistance during the games.”
Try Time sparks program initiative
Sonya said the idea of All Abilities Rugby League program was initiated after Daly’s father watched a television interview that lit a spark inside him.
“My husband saw an interview on Fox Sports about a young autistic boy in New South Wales who wanted to play rugby league and his father said to him to come back to him when he was 10 and they’d talk about it,” she said.
“On the day of his 10th birthday the boy turned out in his footy gear and said I’m 10 now dad and I want to play football. They went down but there was nothing that suited his needs.
“The father started what they call in New South Wales Try Time and we have changed this to All Abilities Rugby League.”
Working in conjunction with Northern Districts Rugby League and supported by NRL and QRL, Sonya said the program would help show children with special needs there was nothing to limit them.
“All we are doing is giving our kids the opportunity to feel part of a team,” Sonya said.
“These kids are going to have a sense of achievement, and I know being part of a team will mean a lot to them.
“For parents to come and sit back and see their kids play a team sport instead of being in their own world – It will mean a lot.
“We have lots of mentors who have been so supportive and are willing to help out.
“We will have these mentors on the field, if there’s three special needs kids in one team, we will have three mentors on the field behind these kids to assist.”
All Abilities Rugby League come and try day
All Abilities Rugby League program will have a come and try day on Sunday, 22 May, at the Brothers sports grounds at 11 am.
“We are looking at having 100 kids take part, that’s 10 kids per age group,” Sonya said.
“We are doing a four-week program, as Daly is smart enough to know there are kids in his class that go and play soccer, or other sports, for a whole term not just once.
“So, if we only did it once he would think why? Why is he different? So, that’s one of the reasons why we’ve spread it over four weeks.
“It gives him the week-in, week-out experience and routine. We also thought by the fifth week a lot of kids who have fatigue and mobility issues would struggle to come back, so four weeks will be great.”
To find out more about the All Abilities Rugby League program join the Facebook page by clicking here, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning Sonya on 0427 137 885.
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