1 February 2023

How playing a game for fun led to more opportunities for Damian, Craig and Darren in their community.

Image: Damien, Craig and Darren sit together, wearing the Team Victoria uniform.

Three Victorian housemates were supported to flex their muscles on the green with bocce!

Transferring to the NDIS has encouraged housemates Craig, Damien and Darren to plan for the life experiences they want to have and goals they want to achieve, including participating in sport and the community.

Craig, Damien and Darren started playing bocce together about three years ago, and they joined the Melbourne Southern bocce team. Fortnightly meetings and weekend tournaments soon became a part of the men’s routine.

Bocce provided not only an opportunity to have fun but also a chance to socialise and develop friendships –and they were good at it. Craig, Daniel and Darren have shared they love the sense of community around the game. Their friendship circle has grown as they met different people in the Melbourne Southern team, and competitors from other areas.

“Being in a team, playing bocce – it’s fun. Exercise helps with pain." Shared Damien.

"We like meeting people, and we like our coach!”

The skills and talent of the group have also caught the attention of Marie, who organises the Melbourne South Bocce team. Marie asked the men if they were interested in representing Team Victoria at the Special Olympics in Launceston, Tasmania.

“We are excited to play in the Olympics. We are very proud and excited to fly in a plane to Tasmania,” said Craig.  

Image: Darren, Damien and Craig stand in front of a white board, holding cue cards.

Once Craig, Damian and Darren decided they wanted to take up the opportunity, they sought support from their families, Life Without Barriers, support coordinators and the Special Olympics organisers to make it happen. The team at the Special Olympics helped make sure support staff could accompany them on the trip too.

Staff at the home also supported the men’s dreams – being flexible and adjusting rosters so that one staff member could travel. Thanks to the great teamwork, Craig, Darren and Damien went to the Special Olympics!

To prepare for the Games in Launceston, the three men attended a training camp in May, which ran for one day and one night. It gave them a chance to practice their routine, and just as importantly, it boosted the morale of the Melbourne team representatives, giving them a chance to bond.

Darren said, “The training camp was fun. We did some fun group activities. We talked about how to respect each other and how to help each other. The best part was we got to share a room, and it gave us an idea of what to expect in Tasmania. The smoke alarm went off in the middle of the night ...it was very loud!”    

Image: Damien, Craig and Darren on the bus to the training camp.

The Life Without Barriers team supporting Craig, Daniel and Darren, along with some other residents, got in and helped the team practice, transforming the hallway into a bowling green.

The skills and relationships the men had developed were truly amazing. Each individual got something from this experience," said Melissa Kemp, one of the support team.

"Whenever it was mentioned that Craig was going to represent Victoria in October, his chest would puff out. Darren had been exploring new environments with confidence, and Damien hoped to meet new friends – perhaps a lovely lady he could get to know."

"It’s been a magical journey for our whole house and one we will not forget.”

Image: Team Victoria on the grounds at the MGC during the Send-Off event.

Thanks to their teamwork and the support from those around them, Craig, Damien and Darren were all set to do their best and have fun at the Special Olympics.

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