On the first Saturday morning of every month for the past four years…
Jo Kellam and her two children, Damien and Chloe arrive at Zone Bowling at Moonah with a bounce in their step.
The lights are dimmed, hip music is playing through the speakers and there’s the unmistakable and distinctive sound of a bowling ball rolling down the lane and crashing into the pins, sometimes for a strike (ten in one go). It’s kid heaven and a lot of fun.
This routine has become an important stop off point on what is a difficult road for the Kellam family. Damien is confined to a wheelchair for large parts of the school day, his body can’t cope with the demands of a daily routine because of his short stature syndrome, Damien known as ‘Dymano’ to many revels in the atmosphere of the bowling alley in full swing. His older sister Chloe is non communicative autistic. Ten pin bowling is one place where they can both be part of something. As the morning unfolds and the tenpins start to tumble Chloe’s level of engagement is noticeable and her personality really starts to emerge
“It’s something they really look forward to” says Jo Kellam “Other kids are out and about doing sport, my kids just aren’t able to fit in with games like football and netball so ten pin bowling is ideal. They both want to be involved like everyone else”.
Saturday morning ten pin bowling is part of the KSport program, a state government funded initiative that provides a variety of sporting programs for kids with disabilities and their siblings. It’s administered by former national wheelchair basketballer (and now national Archery representative) Kevin Faulkner. The programme is Kevin’s initiative, it aims to make more and more sports available to young people who are wheelchair bound or who are otherwise disabled. The latest KSport program is wheelchair cricket. Another initiative Taverners will be keen to help support to succeed.
“It’s about being active, developing friendships and helping each other out” says Kevin “the families look out for each other, parents can get together and talk to each other and compare stories. It’s as much a community thing as a sporting one”
For the Tasmanian Branch, contributing financially to things such as lane hire at Zone Bowling is a way of making a real difference.
“Without the support of Taverners Tasmania it’ll be difficult to run these programmes” said Kevin Faulkner.
For a family such as the Kellam’s that isn’t able to access mainstream sport the way many can the expectation and excitement leading up to a morning of bowling is something hard to quantify. It’s a chance to be a part of something after what can be long and difficult weeks.
As Jo says “my kids don’t belong to anything else but they really do belong here”…
Feature image: State Disability Bowling Team