Rugby Victoria has today revealed a partnership with the occupational therapy program Sense Rugby.
Founded by Australian 7s legend Jesse Parahi and his Paediatric Occupational Therapist partner Carlien, Sense Rugby is an inclusive rugby offering for children who may find it difficult to be part of a sports team.
The rugby program is customised for children with developmental delays and conditions, including dyspraxia, autism, ADHD and down syndrome.
Tapping into Jesse’s international rugby experience and Carlien’s training as a Paediatric Occupational Therapist, Sense Rugby has become a successful tool in assisting the social and emotional development of its participants.
Established in 2015, Sense Rugby sessions are overseen by an experienced Paediatric Occupational Therapist and use visual based tools and small groupings to foster an open and warm environment for the rugby youngsters.
In rolling out the program across Victoria, Sense Rugby will be providing strategic advice and initiatives to the state’s governing body, as well as offering professional development opportunities for Rugby Victoria Development staff and community club administrators. Bi-annual Sense Rugby holiday clinics, with modified activities to ensure all children can participate, will also be delivered in 2023.
The partnership reflects Rugby Victoria’s commitment to promoting inclusivity within the code, ensuring there is a place for people of all abilities within the rugby family.
From Chris Evans (Rugby Victoria CEO)
“Central to rugby’s values has always been the concept of inclusivity.
“We are proud of the fact that our rugby community is open to all Victorians; be that 5 year olds picking up a rugby ball for the first time, our ageless Masters, our army of volunteers or even our Melbourne Chargers who have championed the efforts of the LGBTIQA+ community.
“More importantly though, rugby can be a tool for inclusion across groups of all abilities. Our wheelchair rugby program has fostered World Champions and a sense of community that extends beyond the court.
“Partnering with Sense Rugby ensures our code remains accessible to all Victorians of all abilities.
“Welcoming those with developmental needs into rugby promotes a greater diversity within our family and will ultimately promote a stronger sense of community.”
From Carlien Parahi (Sense Rugby)
"Inclusion is about more than just inviting everyone to play rugby. It's about creating safe, accessible spaces for families to find understanding communities of people who are committed to learning all they can to support their child on the journey of participation that they choose.
"This partnership with Rugby Victoria allows us to create a full pathway of support for neurodiverse families and people with disabilities to join local rugby teams and clubs.
"Our Occupational Therapy program helps children develop their skills to play wand our club & community training program creates long-term inclusion by empowering clubs with the knowledge to support families.
"We are passionate about the power of sport to create real change for individuals and communities and we can't wait to welcome more families into clubs across Victoria."