A better innings for people with disabilities
Jason Schmidt, 34, from Margate in Tasmania, is more than a typical father of three. He is dedicated to helping those living with a disability and has found cricket to be the perfect platform.
Working night shifts in retail as well as being a part-time relief teacher’s aide, Jason is committed to using his love of cricket to help people with a disability boost their skills, confidence and social interaction.
Jason established the Hurricane Inclusion Cup and the New Town Inclusion Project, which gives people living with intellectual and physical disabilities the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging.
Jason said it’s also about giving these individuals the opportunity to learn to play cricket in a team environment.
“My goal is to encourage people living with a disability to come to a club and to play in a club environment; something they may not otherwise be able to do.”
With no cricket programs existing for people with a disability in Tasmania, Jason works alongside support services in order to help people build up skills and hopefully join mainstream club teams.
“I decided to develop programs around disability because there is nothing out there; participants range in age from 14 to 50.”
“The Hurricane Inclusion Cup has gone from playing a few games to creating a whole program, and as such, I’ve now set up services so that coaches can continuously run their own sessions,” said Jason.
Jason admits there are tremendous benefits for participants both on and off the field.
“It has been absolutely incredible. The social interaction with the kids has improved and so has their confidence in themselves.”
“Some of the kids I was working with always had support workers who did everything for them, but cricket was a great way for them to develop more independence and even their parents say they are now more helpful around the house,” he said.
On top of his paid work and responsibilities as Junior Development Officer at New Town Cricket Club, Participation Specialist at Cricket Tasmania and Southern Coordinator for the Special Olympics, Jason’s dedication to promoting all-abilities sport is outstanding.
A major struggle Jason faces is funding shortages, so to keep the initiatives alive, he contributes a significant amount of his own time and money.
“There isn’t a lot of funding, so I do a lot of things in my own time. I volunteer about 15-20 hours a week.”
“I even went out and bought a big trophy to get engraved to give out to the winners,” he said.
Currently, there are between 30 and 40 people participating each week in the programs, which Jason hopes to expand, as well as help more people by getting blind and deaf people involved with cricket as well.
“I love doing what I am doing and want it to keep going to help the participants feel that they are achieving something,” said Jason.