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They may be visually impaired, mentally disabled or unable to walk unaided, but put them on the judo mat and you'll never pick the difference.

Special Needs (SN) judo, or G-judo, is giving those not usually able to participate in sports a chance to mix it with the best.

By starting athletes in standing, kneeling or lying down positions, SN judo allows competitors of all shapes, sizes and abilities to compete.

Elizabeth Special Needs Judo sensei Paul Reeves holds twice weekly classes for students with varying levels of disabilities.

The types of member disabilities includes, but is not limited to, visual impairment, aspergers, cerebral palsy, muscular weakness and palsies, autism spectrum disorder, ADD, ADHD, Downs Syndrome, learning and cognition disorders.

 

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PAUL Reeves says Australia’s first special-needs judo club is giving children a fighting chance against bullies and low self-esteem.

Mr Reeves, a clinical nurse at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, had been doing judo for several years when in 2007 he visited special-needs clubs in the UK and decided Australia should have its own.

He started the Elizabeth Special Needs Judo Club with fellow coach Graham Anderson, and the club now boasts some of the state’s best sportspeople.

“There’s some kids who, because of their disability, have been bullied at school and had very low self-esteem, were socially isolated, didn’t really know how to join a club and interact,” the Gawler man said.

“Some of these kids, who were really shy and withdrawn, they learn confidence, they learn to speak to and trust people and they learn also to have fun with what they’re doing.”

Mr Reeves and Mr Anderson have been nominated for a Pride of Australia Medal in the Community Spirit category for their work with local youngsters.

The club, based at the Elizabeth RSL on Midway Rd, caters for children as young as five with various physical and intellectual disabilities, including autism.

Mr Graham said the key to the club’s success was playing to its members’ strengths.

 

There’s some kids who, because of their disability, have been bullied at school and had very low self-esteem, were socially isolated, didn’t really know how to join a club and interact.

Some of these kids, who were really shy and withdrawn, they learn confidence, they learn to speak to and trust people and they learn also to have fun with what they’re doing.

Our club, based at the Elizabeth RSL on Midway Rd, caters for children as young as five with various physical and intellectual disabilities, including autism.

The key to the club’s success was playing to its members’ strengths. We focus on their abilities, not their disabilities.

We work on what they can do, not what they can’t. Obviously physical disabilities mean they can’t do certain things so we work around it. If someone can’t walk, obviously they can’t do throws so we concentrate on ground work, with the odd few throws that they probably can do from the ground, and we just modify it to suit the individual person.