A joint program between AFL Queensland and the Life Stream Foundation has demonstrated the far reaching benefits AFL can bring to young people with disabilities.
The sport education/active inclusion program ran over six weeks and involved students aged 10 to 17yrs old with various physical and intellectual disabilities including Cerebral Palsy and Asperger Syndrome.
The Victoria Point State High School, Cleveland State High School and Capalaba State College students were introduced to the skills of AFL with team-based weekly activities and games.
AFL Queensland School Development officer Daniel Almond said staff had seen some dramatic changes in some students over the six weeks.
“At the start of the program some of the students were unwilling to engage or be part of a team,” said Almond.
“They were finding themselves in trouble at school and due to this attendance was low.”
Almond said that as students progressed through the program their confidence increased and behaviour changed.
“Feedback received from the teachers was positive with students attendance rate increasing as was their cooperation in class and relationships with other students,” he said.
The program culminated in the AFL Life Stream Day at Redlands AFC last week which saw all three school s come together for a gala day.
“It was great to see students from all three schools getting along, sharing the football, having a laugh and playing as a team,” said Almond.
“It showed me and the AFL Q Staff that just teaching basic AFL Skills and giving these students an opportunity to play a game of AFL every week positively affects their day-to-day behaviour and attitude towards engaging in programs and activities.”
Almond said the verdict from the students was that the program was “great fun” with some even downloading the rules of the AFL so they could study up.
“We also experienced a great moment at the end of the day with one of the students – “River” as he likes to be called – giving an impromptu speech thanking AFL Qld, Life Stream and Redlands AFC for a great day and giving up our time to offer AFL to their schools.”
About the Life Stream Foundation
Formed in 1984, Life Stream Foundation provides services to people with disabilities: facilitating the development of skills, independence and friendships through participation in community sport, recreation and leisure in addition to accommodation support. This provides our members with improved quality of life, personal development, the opportunity to achieve, a sense of belonging and most importantly improved self esteem.
For more information head to: http://www.lifestream.org.au/