Playing sport is known to have a great range of benefits in health and fitness, but for some, it provides so much more.
For one group of athletes from the Mid North Coast, sport has provided more than just exercise and a bit of fun, it has given them the skills and confidence to achieve independence.
Jason Holley and Grant Percival are two of 15 athletes from the Mid North Coast who have been chosen to represent NSW at the Special Olympics National Games in 2018. The boys are part of the 60 player ten pin bowling team.
Bowling has helped Jason and Grant immensely, teaching them to work both as a team, taking turns and being respectful of others, as well as learning to compete in solo competition.
Since discovering this passion, Jason’s social skills have developed beyond recognition, and with this new confidence he has secured a job working at Coles three days a week, and has achieved independence.
Jason’s mother Julie, who puts in countless hours as a volunteer on the team, is one very proud parent.
“We thrive on it. Watching the boys develop these skills, there are no words. We are just so proud,” she said.
Grant jumped on the bowling train a little later in life, but the impact bowling has had on his confidence has no limit. He used to be very withdrawn, uncomfortable with social interactions he avoided leaving the house. Then he started bowling.
Since then, he has gained confidence and social skills, and now volunteers regularly at the YMCA. He has also discovered that he loves mentoring children, and is hoping to complete his TAFE qualification in child care.
I am so excited to go to Adelaide.
“I am so excited to go to Adelaide,” said Grant.
“You just meet so many people, I have made so many friends.”
The Mid North Coast team is made up of 11 ten pin bowlers, one golfer, one basketball player, and two girls for equestrian. The team is comprised of young adults, from 18 years old up.
Gavin Anderson is another member of the ten pin bowling team, and Jasmine Chamberlain and Sui Watts have been selected for equestrian. These three are all are from Taree.
Great Lakes swimmers Teila Bulmer and Kiara Gaul have also been selected, but are representing the Hunter Region in the games.
To attend the Games, the team has to raise $3000 per athlete, a challenge they have taken in their stride.
With Bunnings barbecues scheduled on October 1 and 21, there is still a long way to go to reach their goal, and any donations or sponsorship's are very welcome.