IT is really great news to hear the GEMS program, which gives girls with disabilities the opportunity to learn about and play netball, is doubling in size this year.
Last year nine girls were given the opportunity to participate in two trial games but this year 18 will get the chance to participate over the course of four weekends.
After the two trial games last year – the idea of Gabby Rusden and Diane Moseby – were so popular, it’s no wonder.
The Port Lincoln Netball Association’s support of the program should also be commended.
The two trial games last year were undeniably heartwarming but they were also a bit of an eye opener as well.
Winter sport is such a huge part of the region’s lifestyle and yet before last year, a whole group of young girls were unable to participate.
So many children look forward to playing sport on the weekend and most adults would have a memory of playing football, netball, soccer or hockey and keeping an eye on the sideline for mum and dad.
More young girls now have the chance to make those memories as well.
They also get to feel part of a team and learn and improve on their netball skills – experiences some, if not all of us, have taken a bit for granted.
It is a great leap forward for Port Lincoln toward becoming a truly inclusive and accessible community.
Workplaces, restaurants shopping centres, hotels and public toilets are all required to have disability access and facilities, and this program provides an equally important type of access to local sport as well.
The GEMS program is a reminder that disability access is about more than being able to access a building, it’s about access to the community.
However, unlike access to a building, providing social and sporting opportunities for young people with disabilities is up to the community and with their simple idea, Mrs Rusden and Mrs Moseby have done just that.
So hopefully the GEMS program gets the support and sponsorship it needs to continue providing this opportunity to young girls with disability, not just from Port Lincoln but from all over the Eyre Peninsula.
Picture by Take 2 Photography.