In a big shed a group of children are highly engaged in martial arts. They are jumping over hurdles, wearing boxing gloves and skipping with jump ropes.
(min cost $8)
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These children, who all have autism, are engaging in an activity that under different circumstances may not be possible for them to do so.
Jeremy Ozois and his fellow fighter Rishi Chisholm have joined forces to provide Fighting For Autism classes at their Delacombe gym, Barbarian Muay Thai.
Mr Ozois’ daughter Ruby has autism, but she loves muay thai.
In general classes she would become overwhelmed – but in this specific class Ruby is in her her element.
“The idea of this class is to let children do what they want at their own pace,” Mr Ozois said.
Mr Chisholm, 19, has become an ambassador for Sydney based organisation Fighting for Autism, which was started by Christian Mitchell in Sydney to help his autistic daughter.
“It was Rishi’s idea to bring the classes to Ballarat – I just jumped on board,” Mr Ozois said.
“Sometimes it is hard for children with autism to get involved in team sport – here they can go at their own pace, but it is still 10 kids doing the same thing at the same time.
“They are part of a team and it is an outlet. It is a great way to get involved.”
The classes are part of a growing movement to develop social outlets for children with autism.
Earlier this year Ballarat mum Vicky Robinson founded Yellow Ladybugs Ballarat in a bid to ensure there were support groups for autistic girls and their families.
Ms Robinson’s daughter Rachel was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome two years ago. Ms Robinson said this was a really difficult time in the young family’s life.
Ms Robinson, desperate to find friends that Rachel could connect with, thought about setting up her own group for girls on the autism spectrum.
“I did some research and came across Yellow Ladybugs,” Ms Robinson said.
Yellow Ladybugs founder Katie Koullas created the group to educate the community about how girls on the autism spectrum were affected. The Ballarat branch runs activities throughout the years for girls with autism. To find out more visit the Yellow Ladybugs Ballarat Facebook page.
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