By Kirra Grimes
THE Leongatha Gymnastics Club has once again been recognised for its efforts to celebrate diversity and inclusion, with a nomination in the 2019 Victorian Regional Achievement and Community Awards.
The club’s been nominated under the awards’ Diversity and Inclusion category for ongoing initiatives to include underrepresented groups.
There are plenty of examples of this from the last year alone, including increasing involvement with the South Gippsland Specialist School; and a range of new programs specifically designed to encourage underrepresented groups to give gymnastics a go.
There’s ‘NinjaGym,’ designed to encourage more boys to try the traditionally female-dominated sport of gymnastics; as well as classes in Leongatha and Korumburra three times a week for people over the age of 55.
There are also several initiatives aimed at increasing participation of people with disabilities, including a dedicated All Abilities group; a group for teens with disabilities; and an increased focus on integrating All Abilities students into recreational classes, with coaches attending training sessions to learn how to better support gymnasts with disabilities.
These efforts appear to be working, with an increase in gender diversity at the club (more than 70 male gymnasts are now signed up, compared to 20 in 2017), and an increase in gymnasts involved in All Abilities programs (more than 20 in 2019, compared to just three in 2018).
Another 30 young people with disabilities participate in gymnastics programs each week as part of the club’s partnership with the South Gippsland Specialist School, and a collaboration with GippSport has made possible the only over-55s gymnastics program in the area.
Head coach Miranda Wilson said the club was proud to offer a variety of programs that allowed more people to get involved in
“We believe gymnastics should be available and accessible to everyone,” she said.
“It’s a sport that can teach so many great skills to be used in all aspects of life and we want everyone to be able to benefit from what we can offer.
“There should be no barriers preventing people from participating in our wonderful sport.”
A leading example of a community organisation doing its best to champion difference and the value of all people, the club earlier this year received Gymnastics Victoria’s Inclusive Initiative of the Year award for its disability programs, and has received multiple awards from the South Gippsland Shire Council for similar initiatives.