When the OnTrack Tasmania Sports Program leader left last year, Sports participants did not wait for replacement staff. They took charge of the program and have been running the Sports sessions with their support staff ever since.
OnTrack Tasmania Sports Program is a popular Making Tracks program for Community Access participants. Making Tracks is a trail-blazing and inclusive program that provides NDIS participants with an opportunity to develop core skills, create connections and experience a sense of accomplishment in a safe and supportive environment. Sports sessions occur three days a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The participants have lunch after the Thursday sessions at Montrose Hub or a barbecue in the summer.
Participants can play any sport of their choice but some of the popular ones are basketball, futsal, tenpin bowling, mini golf, basketball and cricket. The participants decide the sport they want to play the week prior and the sports venue. The venue is dependent upon the type of sport. YMCA Glenorchy, Moonah Sports Centre, and Zone Bowling Moonah are the popular indoor sports venues used by our participants.
All OnTrack Tasmania Community Access participants can participate in the Sports sessions. Tom is one of the regular participants and the program coordinator. “The worker in charge left and I offered to coordinate the program to keep it going,” he said. Tom has played sports since he was young and competes nationally in his favourite sport, tenpin bowling. He has a vast collection of medals including classic grey ones which he won in the numerous competitions he has been in across the country.
Any participant can suggest the sport they want to play, and the group settles on the preference of the majority. “We all come up with ideas and decide what to play for the next week. [Volunteers] pick up sports gear from the office and we just meet and play,” Tom said. When asked what he enjoys most about running the program, Tom said “teaching [the participants] how to play the games. We just have fun.” On some winter days, the participants go to the Montrose Hub and play cards because it gets cold in the hall.
Playing sports has huge benefits on not just physical wellbeing but mental well-being of an individual which lead to immediate and long-term benefits. Some of the benefits of participating in sports are improved physical health, high energy levels, improved social skills, boosted confidence, improved communication and team mindset, learning how to deal with setbacks, improved mood, and better sleep at night.
Tom would like to see the group grow and is encouraging NDIS participants to join in on the fun. “Come and have fun and enjoy lunch, summertime we have barbecues,” he says. Tom has met new people through the program and some of them have become stable friends. He is thinking of organising a bowling competition soon with the help of the Community Access Program Coordinator. The participants can also take part in other Making Tracks programs like Music, Gaming, Digital Literacy, Movie Night, Social Night and Karaoke.
David and Jamie are active Sports participants who met at the very beginning of the Sports Program and have been best friends since. They started to hang out more outside OnTrack Tasmania support to go bushwalking and play games at David’s house. They are often spotted together participating in the same Making Tracks Programs like Sports, Arts and Crafts, and Cooking. They often collect sports gear from the office for the sports sessions. Jamie’s favourite sports are soccer and cricket. He plays catcher in cricket which is his strongest area. Jamie values his friendship with David and says, “we haven’t argued with each other or fought, I can talk to [David] when I feel stressed,”. David is happy to have a friend who shares similar interests.