IDPwD Athlete Profiles: Josh

Meet Special Olympics Ballarat Golfer, Josh Kennedy. 

The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sporting organisation existing exclusively for people with intellectual disability. As one of the founding athletes of Special Olympics Ballarat, it is no surprise that Josh Kennedy is involved in nearly all of their local sports offerings.

Josh’s father, Charles, explained that Special Olympics “is great for individuals with intellectual disability as it provides an environment for people to socialise and participate evenly”. “It can also give the athletes a great sense of achievement to be successful at the sport of their choosing” Charles continued.

Charles identified early in Josh’s life that mainstream sport wasn’t suitable for him, so the arrival of the Special Olympics to Ballarat in 2003 provided the ideal avenue for Josh to engage in sport. “Unfortunately mainstream sport isn’t an option for Josh. It is great for him to have access to the Special Olympics where he can socially interact with like-minded individuals, without worrying about winning or losing” he stated.

Josh participates in the Ballarat’s Special Olympics golf, basketball, bowling and swimming programs. Josh loves the entire variety of sports he plays but stated that golf is probably his favourite. He enjoys the social aspect of getting out to the Creswick golf course every second Sunday in the summer months for a game with his peers. The friendly environment and modified coaching approach is ideal to meet Josh’s unique needs.

Josh is very modest, and will never brag about his sporting successes to date. Despite winning numerous medals in swimming at the 2010 National Special Olympics Games, Josh explained that the experience highlight was being able to have at trip away to Adelaide with some of his friends and family. Charles said “it’s never been about winning for Josh, he has always preferred the social side of sport”.

Charles talked fondly of a time at the 2010 National Special Olympics Games when Josh was swimming in a heat against his friend Christian. Josh had started the race strongly and was leading Christian, and others, to the first turn. To the shock of Josh’s family and the crowd, instead of turning around and completing the race, Josh waited at the end of the pool for Christian to finish his lap, before proceeding to finish the race together. Charles said this was a great example of Josh’s caring and selfless nature.

When Josh isn’t teeing off a golf ball, shooting hoops, knocking down pins or swimming in a pool, you are most likely to find him socialising with his friends at Scope or dancing at e.motion21. He also spends a few days a week working at Ballarat Regional Industries in the Packaging Department, which he enjoys as it gives him a sense of responsibility and belonging. As Josh gets older he wants to continue trying new sports and he hopes that one day he can get involved in winter sports. Josh’s older sister, Hannah, works for Disabled Wintersport Australia and Josh identifies a further chance to spend time with his sister if he takes up a winter sport.

Sports Central work closely with Special Olympics Ballarat and other organisations to provide inclusive sporting opportunities so that Josh and other people with disability can enjoy the sports that they love!

For further details about Special Olympics Ballarat Golf or any of their sporting programs please visit www.specialolympics.com.au/index.php/ballarat.