“All Abilities” is a term that refers to people whose physical, cognitive, behavioural and other capabilities may be different. MPTTA welcomes these people so that they have opportunities to have fun and to grow. We run sessions every week for All Abilities players including Fit and Fun days and we work with many All Abilities organisations including Focus, GenU, Belgravia Leisure, and the Shire of Mornington. We were the shared winner with Mornington Shire and our partners of the 2018 Victorian Sports Award (Local Government initiative of the Year category) for Fit and Fun day for “All Abilities” program - a prestigious award. For further information please contact us (see "contact" tab).
We have tables especially designed for wheelchair players and those with impaired vision.
Fit and Fun day is an important weekly event for All Abilities players which has been operating at MPTTA since 2017. This involves a welcoming environment for players with all types of abilities. There are wheelchair accessible tables and a special table for vision impaired players.
A few years ago Mr X started out in table tennis at the MPTTA stadium and was unable to acknowledge or connect with the MPTTA manager Les (a lovely gentle, sociable and welcoming man) who runs the table tennis for Fit and Fun. Mr X was standing in one spot looking around with little focus. He was only able to hit the ball on rare occasions. His participation level was low.
By the next year Mr X was still standing in one spot but there was a small improvement in his focus and attention and he was hitting the ball a little more frequently.
Over the next two years Mr X began to make a small acknowledgment of Les, and started picking the table tennis ball up, and was able to concentrate and focus his attention much better with rallies of a hit hits in a row.
During this last year things have changed quite dramatically so that Mr X has greater confidence and engagement with Les and he pays his court fee. Mr X has stopped looking around in a disengaged manner and he now actively hits the ball and picks it up, even walking briskly to pick a ball that has come from a neighbouring court and passing the ball back to the adjacent players. At a recent session Mr X realised the ball he was using had cracked and on his own initiative he got another ball from near the office and returned to continue the game.
These changes are not only behavioural but they also point to deeper interpersonal, cognitive and emotional changes for the better.
Compared to how Mr X was some years ago, he had made remarkable gains and this is a joy to see. The simple value of being able to play table tennis and have fun has resulted in stimulation not only for Mr X but for others in his group. Engagement, achievement and greater self-esteem have grown.
Ms Y first came to the MPTTA Fit and Fun table tennis activities a few years ago. In the beginning she was very reluctant if not outright averse to participating. She refused to engage in any activity. She would just stand and look. Her catch cry was an emphatic “can’t do it!” It was as though she was in her own safe bubble looking out.
Over the months she slowly started to engage in the Swish table (developed for vision impaired players and designed with a resting bat and ball to enable greater control and ease of play). The Centre manager Les, who runs the table tennis program for Fit and Fun, kept encouraging Ms Y and gently challenging the “can’t do it” belief. Ms Y gradually responded to personal engagement and an invitation to play Swish. In time her eyes would light up when she was invited to play Swish.
Now the “can’t do it!” has ceased. Ms Y participates on her own volition and walks up to the table wanting to play the game. She has taken a further dramatic step by starting play – she picks up a bat and joins in with others whom she may not know. Previously she would never do this. Over the years Ms Y has become far more open, more expressive and more confident of who she is and what she wants.
This vignette shows the impact of the Fit and Fun program in helping those of All Abilities to become more independent and to grow in ways that are inspiring and not just confined to physical skills. Fit and Fun helps people to develop their potential and to grow not just in health and well-being, but also behaviourally, socially, cognitively and emotionally.
Every year MPTTA joins in to celebrate International Day of People with Disability. Table tennis, footy, soccer, netball, table tennis, SWISH, circus skills, gymnastics, tennis and cricket are all available to try on this fun-filled day. The first such day was held in 2015 and it is growing as a major calendar event.
MPTTA hosted the Para games in Feb 2017 which brought players from all over Australia and overseas.